Weekly chapters (1/2)
Bad news and Good news. It seems the cause of my GoogleDrive/Doc slow to access is because my HDD failing.
There was a notification that it’s already on risk, so I decided to replace it asap. Thanks to that, I can access the Drive and Doc normally again now. (Although I lost most of my programs on Drive C due to the bad sectors, but most of my files on other drive are safe.)
Anyway, enough ranting.
Enjoy the chapter.
Episode 56 ~I tried provoking the centaurs to fight~
Gandil was a city built on the border between Karendil and Gobbel. It had two gates; one that led to Karendil kingdom’s territory, and the other gate led to Geppel kingdom’s territory. Weirdly enough, when asked which kingdom Gandil belongs to, one inhabitant replied with Karendil Kingdom, while another considered the city belongs Gobbel’s.
I thought it was a sloppy city, but it seems that officials from both countries were doing well with the cooperation of the Commerce Guild regarding taxes and governance. In essence, the city may be dominated by the Commerce Guild.
Well, considering what kind of city Gandil is, it’s currently plagued with 2 problems.
First, no merchant caravans were arriving.
What I meant by that, is that no caravans from Gobbel had been coming to the city, and caravans from Karendil that left the city never returned either. After paying a huge amount to the adventurer guild to investigate this matter, it was found that the caravans that did not return had been stranded in Gobbel, prevented by the kingdom from returning.
Instead, they were instructed by the Gobbel kingdom to proceed to Miscronia in order to continue their business.
The second was the centaur refugees.
It had become a concern ever since the skirmish between Gobbel and the centaurs began, but the problem only became apparent after the great flooding started.
It is said that many tents had been set up outside of the Gobbel territory side of the walls of Gandil. However, there were few monsters to hunt around Gandil, and there were few jobs because caravans did not come, so it seems that their supplies were running low. Some people even believe that the centaurs are the reason why the caravans were unable to come and go, causing constant conflict between the two.
[So, that is the current situation of this city.]
[I see. Wonder what Gobbel kingdom is planning to do to the centaurs with all this?]
[Gobbel kingdom’s plan… there is no way a simple merchant such as me would be able to tell.]
[Two more shortswords then.]
I sighed looking at the smiling pig in front of me――Gandil’s commerce guild master, and raised my two fingers.
Now, why was I talking to Gandil’s commerce guild master again?
After splitting up with Tida upon hearing the centaurs’ situation, me and Marl visited the commerce guild. This is because I believe it’s easier to gather information from the merchants given how little time we had.
I showed the receptionist the new sword I mass produced during the great flooding and requested to meet the guild master.
I’ve heard before that the transcendental quality sword I distributed via Sondark had become a hot topic in various commerce guilds.
At my request, those swords should’ve been exported to Gobbel. With Gandil being a trading hub, I thought that it should’ve passed through this city. They should’ve been aware of the quality, and as such, it can become a good bargaining tool for me.
So I’ve been pulling weapons from my convenient inventory to wring out more information from the pig――I mean the guild master.
[Oh, there was a rumour… I need more time to recall it.]
At this point, I’ve already pulled out four sabers and four shortswords. All that can be sold for 50 gold even at market price. If I pull out too many, the price may collapse, so I can’t afford to take out more. Honestly, no matter how valuable the information he can provide, it’s still a rip off. Should I just fold out soon?
[By the way, chief. Do you know Viscount Saiden?]
[Hmm? Is it Viscount Saiden of Miscronia? Yes, of course. I believe his territory is right at the border with Gobbel kingdom too.]
[Yep, but do you know that he’s been missing now?]
I leaned forward. A smile decorated my face. The pig’s grin immediately disappeared.
[…this is the first time I’ve heard about that]
[I visited his territory the other day, but couldn’t meet him… he seemed to have disappeared without a trace. As you know, his territory is near the border. He has seen his fair share of conflict at his residence, and has sufficient forces to protect his territory. And yet he still disappeared without anyone noticing.]
[A, a strange story, isn’t it?]
The pig――guild master tried to smile despite the fact that his face had grown pale. Un, it’s not good to be greedy, you know? It’s time to land the finishing blow.
[I know right? Anyways, what did we talk about just now? Was it about Gobbel Kingdom’s plan to the centaurs?]
[O, oh, right… I hear a rumour that the plan was concocted by the crown prince himself. Trading caravans that are going to or from Karendil Kingdom and the Great Forest must go through the centaurs’ territory. That’s why the founding king of Gobbel promised the Centaurs 10% of the profit. Rumour has it that the prince doesn’t like this agreement and thus plans to eliminate the centaurs.]
[There’s actually something like that… Can you tell me more about that promise?]
[Eeー, if I remember correctly, it happened 500 years ago when the kingdom was founded. I don’t know the details, but Gobbel kingdom’s founding owed a lot to the centaurs. In return, Gobbel recognized its western territory as the centaurs’ land. The centaurs would escort the trading caravan that passed through their land from dangers, in return of getting 10% of profits from the trades. I believe that was the promise.]
The guild master summarized the agreement. Even if he looks like a greedy lustful pig, this guy should be capable enough considering his position. Maybe I should stop now.
But still, it’s 10%. 10%. It might sound small, but it’s actually quite sizable. Moreover, an agreement from the time of the kingdom’s founding? Did the kingdom owe the centaurs so much from the time of who knows which great great grandfather of the current king or something?
[So they decided to get rid of the centaurs because they could no longer tolerate the moral baggage? And we’re talking about a very huge moral baggage here.]
[Hmm, you’re right.]
Me, Marl, and the guild master looked at each other and nodded.
I mean, even though the centaurs had the responsibility of being an escort, 10% is still a huge amount, especially for an agreement that had lasted for 500 years. Imagine how much they got per year.
I still feel that getting rid of the centaurs is a bit unreasonable. But I must praise the previous kings of Gobbel to uphold the promise for the past 500 years.
Well, I still don’t know what actually took place between the centaurs and Gobbel kingdom. Did the kingdom didn’t pay the centaurs for a while now, or the centaurs was dissatisfied by the current amount and asked for more.
But I do know that the new king and the finance officer would say this at the beginning.
『Why did we make this kind of agreement! No way!』
Like that. And while saying that, they’d also probably want to strangle the founding king. I would’ve done the same thing. No matter how we think about it, it’ll only become a long lasting grudge and moral baggage.
[Well, putting aside their credibility and moral responsibility, I can understand why the prince wants to eliminate the centaurs.]
That said, I stood up.
For the time being, I understood the situation on the Gobbel’s side. What’s left was getting rid of the centaurs.
The centaurs’ camp really looked like a refugee camp. Tents made of rags and scrap wood, hungry looking centaurs huddling together. Not looking good over all.
Some of them were injured or sick. As far as I can tell, it will be a matter of time before the disease spreads. Anyways, it’s only natural that they were focusing their gazes on strangers like us. Especially since we had weapons on ourselves.
[Halt, what are you doing? This is the centaurs’ territory]
And of course, the armed centaurs immediately came to intercept us. They’re decked in leather armor and iron spear. Despite the fact that the iron spear’s handle was made of iron as well, the centaur guards handled it as if it weighed nothing.
[I came to pick a fight with the centaurs.]
[What did you say!?]
The youngest and the gnarliest among the armed centaurs immediately jumped at the provocation. The others were also becoming hostile, except for one middle aged centaur, who raised his free hand to silence the other centaurs.
[You won’t be this calm if you really came to pick a fight. This should be our first meeting. Why are you targeting us? Are you going to destroy us the centaurs at the behest of the Gobbel kingdom?]
[Nope. Gobbel kingdom also hates my guts. I just thought that if I scratch their back for a bit, they’ll put aside their hatred a little.]
With that said, I waved my hand and took out the『baggages』from my inventory.
Packed flour, baked breads, dried meat and vegetables, dried fruits, barrels of ale, wine, and water, pots of fuel, clean clothing, blankets, and solid tent… I basically spit out everything from my inventory that this camp lacked.
[You can’t fight properly if you’re hungry. And you won’t be able to fight on your full strength if you’re too worried about the hungry women and children. So first, go have a hearty meal and fill your stomach. Only then we’ll fight.]
The middle aged centaur went wide eyed looking at the supplies that appeared one after another like a fountain out of nowhere. But he soon recovered and gave me a smirk. I don’t know what he thought about my action, but his face was noticeably less taut.
[…gather the women, and tell them to get ready to cook]
The centaurs who had gathered around the area immediately scattered to all directions. Soon afterward, the camp became somewhat more lively.
[How unsightly …I’m called Sumerian Penelope. Currently the leader of these people.]
[Taichi Mitsuba. I have various other titles… but a landlord will do.]
[And I am Mariel Blanc Miscronia. We have not officially married yet, but I am Taichi-san’s wife. You can call me Marl.]
Penelope’s eyes went wide once more after hearing our names. I suppose there were very few things that could surprise this man. But it’s not going to change what I will do after this.
[It would be best if we could conclude this matter through peaceful negotiation… well then, Penelope-dono. You claimed to be the leader of these people. Can you convince your people to abandon your revenge on Gobbel kingdom?]
[That… would be difficult. Many of us here, including myself, have lost our relatives to Gobbel Kingdom’s forces.]
Of course… There’s very little chance of them giving up revenge when their relatives were slaughtered for a one-sided reason.
[Will a discussion between you and your people help avert this?]
Penelope smiled bitterly at Marl’s words.
[I doubt that anything will change… The land in the western plains is thin and has little rain, so it’s not suitable for farming. Even if we try, the occasional heavy rain will wash away our efforts. In addition to that, livestock production in Gobbel seems to have made remarkable progress these days, making our livestock not selling as well as before. We can no longer make do without the promised 10% profit.]
I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure how hard it is to improve the soil. However, I can imagine to some extent how difficult it would be to dig up the soil, mix it with fertilizer and other things, and devise ways to prevent the soil from being washed away by heavy rain.
Even if I used earth magic to cheat, it would still be a lot of work. The centaurs, who may not have the expertise, would have to do it on their own…
[Uーn, it’s going to be difficult alright. But that’s enough for the past. Let’s talk about the future.]
[I agree. What you will do from now on is important. Penelope-san, how many people are gathering here, including the women and children?]
[Gobbel kingdom and the great flooding have claimed most of our able hands. Now there are only about 60 full fledged warriors as well as 90 apprentices and advanced aged warriors who could still fight. 80 adults who are either too old or unable to fight. And lastly, 40 who are too young to fight. In total, we have 270 people in this camp.]
They’re many――but it’s actually less than I expected. Looking at the map, the centaur territory used to cover a fairly wide area, so I thought that even if they’re worn out due to all the battles, their number would still easily exceed 500.
By the way, the population in my territory currently consists of about 100 beastkin, 20 or so arachnean along with their spouses, about 40 riverkin, and the fairies… I don’t know their actual number. Probably around thirty, but their sizes vary a lot, not to mention that there are some who prefer to remain invisible. In addition, there are about 20 ordinary human merchants and craftsmen who have been pulled out from outside. Other than them, there are also Lamia, a half-human half-snake; Harpy, a half-human half-bird; humanoid crystalline race with magical crystals on a part of the body, small wings on twisted horns and waist, and a thin tail with a sharp tip like a sword. There are twelve women, such as the demons and dwarfs, who have the harpy, the illegal slave women who were confined in the hidden basement by the harpy of the example. There are about 220 people in total.
What I’m about to do will double that population number.
You can do it, Yamato-chan! Even as the number of our companions is increasing!
I can already see Marl and Tina’s assistants, Yamato, a horsekin whose duty is mainly to distribute various supplies, housing, personnel, etc., shedding tears of joy. It’s okay Yamato, when it goes well, I’ll look for a nice guy among the centaur to be your colleague.
Yes. Our territory is driven by an end-to-end workhorse who is literally a horse.
[Alright. It’s time then.]
Too much blood had already been shed. Since I’m not part of the conflict, there’s little I can do to convince them in a peaceful discussion.
Since we can’t use the diplomacy route, then I’ll have to resort to a more direct route. Bet your own life, a lot of supplies, gold coins, and so on.
Take the initiative to force them into an agreement.
Separately from Marl, I went around the refugee camp and saw the injured and sick. Surprisingly, there were more injured than sick. Was it due to the strong physical strength of the centaurs? When I talked to one of them about the treatment, it seems that the number of livestock has decreased considerably, but there are still some.
It seems that the centaurs and others became valuable food for the amount that was unavoidably crushed due to the inability to secure food. It’s exciting to think that a reasonable number of livestock would become available for my territory. Isn’t this better than I expected, considering that the centaurs who are knowledgeable about livestock can also be obtained?
Eh? Am I treating it as if the centaurs will definitely join me already?
That’s right. If I’m not sure, then I won’t go this far. I can do everything as long as I believe that I could do it.
[Well… It’s about time.]
It was past noon already while I was looking around, cooking meals, and distributing supplies. Seeing the inclination of the sun, it should be about 2 to 3 pm. After healing the injured, I and Marl put out the chairs and tables in a place that wouldn’t get in the way of the centaurs, ate sandwiches and stuff from my storage, and played shogi for the first time in a while. I was trying to kill some time.
By the way I haven’t won even once yet. Marl is too strong, isn’t she?
[Alright. Ah, that is a check.]
When I noticed, the outer moat was buried and I couldn’t move. It’s always this pattern! I also think about it every time and hit it. Am I too predictable or Marl is too good at this…or both?
The centaurs had already gathered at the edge of my eyes. It seems that all the centaurs in the refugee camp, regardless of age or sex, have gathered.
Not only Penelope the leader, Tida and the young guard who got provoked by me earlier were also here. The young ones we encountered earlier today were waving at us.
Both me and Marl stood up, addressing the gathering centaurs after I retrieved the table and chair back into my inventory.
[Have you guys considered it calmly?]
[It’s painful to even consider. It’s really embarrassing that we can’t even feed our women and children satisfactorily. We will never forget this grace.]
With that said, Penelope folded his hands in front of his chest and bowed, and the other centaurs also followed.
[What, if you listen to me from now on, you can forget of experiencing this kind of thing ever again… well, as I said earlier, I came here to pick a fight with you guys.]
The eyes of the centaurs gathered. Those who have a stern look, those who show anger, those who have been given, those who are confused as to whether they can be angry, those who have anxious facial expressions, those who have no expression, various kinds of gaze.
[Let me get this straight, you guys are basically stuck. Karendil Kingdom won’t accept you, and you’re forced into an area with few animals to hunt, causing you to be unable to support yourself. The road to Miscronia should be tightly guarded by the Gobbel army. The Great Forest does not accept outsiders, and the great flooding is still ongoing here. You guys don’t even have the physical capability or supplies to travel long distances in the first place. You’ll either die here slowly or surrender to Gobbel kingdom. There’s no other choice.]
Aside from children like TIda, the older centaurs seemed to be aware of these facts. They’re less upset than I expected.
[Therefore, I’ll offer you all a third choice. I’ll give you a new world. I’ll give you a safe bed to sleep with peace of mind. I’ll give you a job to live on! Follow me, and now I’ll prepare everything I said!]
I held out my hand and spit out a large amount of supplies right next to me. If cut down, it’s enough for the centaurs to spend a month. And it still continued to pile up.
Finally, I took out the wooden box reinforced with an iron frame, let Marl open the lid, and showed the contents to the centaurs. The contents were a large amount of gold coins. 5,000 coins to be exact.
The centaurs who saw the shining gold were screaming, and the excitement and enthusiasm spread in the place. Okay, okay, the grip isn’t bad. What I’m doing is mass incitement itself.
[And of course I’m not merely spouting nonsense here. It’ll be ridiculous unless both sides mutually benefit. First of all, you will have to abandon your hometown. It will be difficult. Moreover, you will have to give up your revenge on the Gobbel Kingdom. Well, you can leave that matter to me. I will handle the prince who put you in all of this trouble. I managed to steal away the two Miscronia princesses who he was planning to marry after all! And finally, you’ll have to recognize me as your king. You’ll be obliged to serve me, and I’ll be obliged to protect you all from Gobbel kingdom, as well as from hunger and cold.]
The centaurs started making noise in my words. It is difficult to throw away your hometown and resentment. Above all, it would be a ridiculous story to make someone they just met today their king. I know that, of course.
[So I’ll go back to the beginning. It wouldn’t be so easy for you to accept this suggestion, right? So I came to pick a fight. You’ll be using yourself as a bet. while I’ll be betting my life, a lot of supplies, and these five thousand gold coins. How about it?]
With that said, I showed a ferocious smile.