The Republic of Keros.
Blessed with large amounts of fertile land, this country was invaded by many others due to its role as the continent’s top exporter of food.
However, the result was marked decrease in productivity and resulting widespread famine, one of the worst manmade disasters since the beginning of history.
But for Keros, that was also an opportunity.
With the export of food as a bargaining chip, it managed to setup alliances with these other countries. This measure that ended up causing a certain percentage of Keros’ own citizens to starve to death was indeed cruel, but undoubtedly the best course of action that they could have taken.
Getting its biggest neighbor, Galdeia, on its side was what turned everything around for Keros.
To pillage Keros would be to declare hostilities against Galdeia.
It just wasn’t worth it. Thus all other countries could only reluctantly go along with Keros’ intentions.
“If you wish to harm our country, have the resolve to starve to death together with us.”
A threat that bordered on coercion as well as self-destruction.
That’s what Keros’ peace is built upon. Taking hostage the lives of not only the citizens of other countries, but also those of its own.
After the ‘promise’ was attained, the rest was easy.
Any country that attempted to invade Keros would be destroyed by all the other countries without Keros even needing to raise a finger. In order to prevent the Great Famine of the past from reoccurring, all countries would treat it like it’s their own business.
That’s how Keros gained the status of being a neutral nation.
With food—something that all humans cannot go without—as its shield, and with its neighbors’ militaries as its spear, it gained everlasting peace.
Peace that lasts forever.
That in itself is surely a beautiful wish.
However, a wealthy environment does not necessary nurture wealthy people.
There are those who turn base because of the abundance that they grow to take for granted.
The village of Fito, located in the western part of the Republic of Keros.
The government official who has just arrived at this village is exactly one such person.
“So will you be coming with us, Priestess of Demeter?”
The man’s body, which looks like a fat balloon, jiggles as he laughs. Looking at him, Asuka heaves a sigh.
He is one of the commanders of Keros’ military. In spite of the big-shot title that he is flaunting all around Fito, he is as much of an imbecile as his appearance suggests. Or perhaps he is simply symbolic of the fools in the military who have become useless from drowning in peace.
Is it money? Or status? Surely this man has climbed up using such strengths that are not really his own strength.
The smell of the martial way is so noticeably absent from this man that even Asuka could probably subdue him if she catches him off guard. It would be so easy, in fact, that she might not even need Athena’s blessing to do it.
But Asuka has been cornered to the point where she has no choice but to obediently listen to what this imbecile says.
“I have no recollection of becoming Demeter’s priestess or anything of the sort.”
If she is to be a priestess, then it would to Sukunabikona-sama, who she is already serving. Such thoughts run through Asuka’s mind as her eyes re-confirm her surroundings.
What she sees is a sea of people enough to bury her relatively big village. People here, people there, people everywhere.
If those people were travellers or tourists or the like, then the village would have come out in full force to provide all the hospitality that it can offer, but as it turns out, these people are all unwanted guests.
Soldiers wearing sword and armor are standing with expressionless faces like scarecrows.
“Hmph. I have no intention of participating in a pointless conversation. If you don’t obey…… you know what would happen, right?”
The man’s disgusting laughter causes Asuka to exchange glances with Sukunabikona on her shoulder before heaving another sigh.
Indeed this threat is effective on Asuka right now. But has he given thought to what would happen after this?
No, surely he has not.
While the young girl Akari Asuka is a servant of god who possesses the ability to strengthen the foundation of this country, at the same time she is also a star of calamity that can rock this country’s very reason for existence.
“…… I understand.”
Asuka’s answers causes Saros, who had been silently watching events unfold, to shout out.
“Why?! These kinds of people, just you and Sukunabikona alone can……”
“And watch everyone else get hurt in the meantime?”
Her soft murmur renders him speechless.
Indeed, with the blessing of Athena upon her, Asuka can kick about this level of mob soldiers all the way back to their barracks if she likes.
But while she does so, how many villagers would be killed?
No, even if it doesn’t go that far, if a single villager is taken hostage, everything would be over.
If things really become like that, the man himself would be over too. But he’s an imbecile and an idiot.
He’s a person who’s chosen, out of all available methods, this specific one that can only lead to his own ruin. But Asuka has absolutely no intention of accompanying him on his path of self-destruction.
“It’ll be fine. I’ll make sure to come back.”
So says Asuka with a smile, to which Saros cannot say anything in return.
All he can do is bite his lips in frustration and hang his head while cursing his own powerlessness.
Asuka cannot help but to feel for him.
He doesn’t have to be that crushed, this situation is not even that bad.
After she is brought to Central, if she meets a decent person, she can gain a guarantee of safety for the village of Fito.
Once she gains protection from someone who understands that everything would be over if she leaves, then that would be enough.
If, in the off chance that this country is already so rotten that there isn’t even a single such person in power, then she merely has to brandish the blessing of Athena and find a way to bring them all to defect to Galdeia.
——Even if doing so would spell destruction for the Republic of Keros.