During the few days when the new soldiers and servants were getting used to the castle, nothing much of note happened.
The soldiers were surprised at the War Tribe warriors camping out in the central courtyard, but didn’t raise much of a fuss.
Just in the one in a million chance, I asked Leid if he would help with the training of the new soldiers, but of course he refused.
With everything at the castle settling down, it became time to set off for Battleaxe Village.
The people coming along with me this time are: Irudo to handle the actual negotiations, Claura as my adviser, Ted and three soldiers as escorts and luggage porters, and of course Leiha.
Sedam, the other adventurers, and the dark elf sisters were needed for the castle’s defense and the soldiers’ training, so they stayed behind.
“If it ever comes to it, it is my mission to cut off your head.”
So declared Leid with a serious face. If this line had been spoken by a pretty female swordswoman then I would have called it tsundere, but this was Leid and he meant it 100%.
However, being under watch by the War Tribe would be terrible for appearances so I objected with all I had. He eventually agreed to go along as a normal warrior, wearing normal armor. What a relief that he’s not completely inflexible after all.
“That’s Margils-sama’s luggage, so don’t you dare to handle it roughly!”
“And that’s Claura-san’s luggage! Handle it more carefully!”
“Sorry about that, Aniki.”
The three who are following(?) Ted as ‘Aniki’ are the youngsters that we had conscripted in our visit to Village of the Pond. As they were originally carpenters, they have both stamina and willpower, so they’ve been able to properly keep up with Jiruk’s training. At the moment, they are still serving out their punishment for the crime of attempted violence against me, but if they continue working seriously like this, then I’m thinking of officially hiring them and giving them a proper salary.
We used the road newly opened up by the Forest Giants to get through the forest east of Jiiteias Castle.
Although the laying of the flagstones was still incomplete, the road itself was already more than good enough to travel on.
After leaving the forest, we went north a bit to find the road connecting Yuule Village to Battleaxe Village, only after which could we resume going east. Indeed it was a pretty large detour.
Going by this route, it would take 5 to 6 days to reach Battleaxe Village. The new trade route would be able to shorten that by 3 whole days.
“Sakko! Grab that part and pull~”
“Aniki, I’ve finished gathering the firewood!”
When you get used to journeys that take several days, it becomes nothing more than a fight against boredom.
But then again, the only reason why I’m thinking that is because I don’t have to help out at all with setting up camp and preparing food, so I feel extremely bad about it.
As I watch the three youngsters doing all the prep work under Ted’s instructions, I understand that it’s faster and more efficient without my help, so I guess there’s no helping it.
Thinking about it from the other side, if we didn’t have the minimum number of personnel — these 4 — then Irudo and Claura and I would have had to do all that work and carry all the luggage by ourselves.
That would be kind of pathetic for the lord of a castle…… alright, let’s just leave this to them then.
And of course Leid would not even eat with us, much less help with setting up camp.
In order to use our time effectively, I decided to do a bit of reviewing.
“Irudo, I want you to tell me something.”
“Yes, of course. What do you want to know?”
“It’s about the city of Filsand, to the east of Battleaxe Village. What kind of city is it?”
Indeed, it’s the city even further east of Battleaxe Village that I’m thinking of extending the Jiiteias Castle trade route to.
From a simple introduction that I had peviously heard from Sedam, it’s a metropolis belonging to Feldi [New Kingdom of the East] that thrives on maritime trade.
“Let me see. It is apparently a metropolis that is thriving on maritime trade. If I remember right, it is connected by ocean to countries even further east than Feldi itself, Ran Balt, and also Shulendal.”
“That sounds like quite something indeed……”
“Indeed it is. However, its routes towards Ran Balt and Shulendal both pass through territory under the rule of the Dragon Empire, so apparently the costs are extremely high.”
“The dragon people again…… Incidentally, is there any trade going on between Battleaxe Village and Filsand?”
“Barely…… is probably the most apt descriptor. In the first place, it’s rare for dwarves to trade with humans. But of course, there might be other reasons that I’m not aware of.”
If there are, then I need to investigate those reasons.
If it’s just something simple like monsters being in the way and making passage difficult, then it can be easily resolved.
The construction itself can also be handled somehow with the dwarves’ cooperation and my wizardry.
“Now I have a ‘what if’ question. What if there is a road that cuts straight across the middle of the continent, connecting Filsand to Battleaxe Village, then to Jiiteias Castle? What would happen then?”
After explaining to this point, Irudo catches onto what I’m thinking. He looks at me with a start, then nods deeply.
“That…… would be an extremely effective route. Currently, there are some caravans and merchants heading to Filsand through the Plains of Twilight. However, most of them suffer great losses due to attacks by undead or bandits. If a safe route is established that leads right to Jiiteias Castle……”
The normally overly calm Irudo gulps audibly.
“…… It would bring an absurd amount of profit.”
Umu umu. With Irudo’s stamp of approval, I feel a lot more confident about my plan.
“It is a plan feasible only due to Margils’ beyond common sense wizardry. However……”
Having joined our conversation halfway through, Claura crosses her arms and adds her own input.
“I do not know the full details, but apparently Filsand, being the large city it is, also has its share of problems. The first is that the duke who controls it has a bad relationship with the Feldian king. And also, that city is under frequent attacks by barbaric tribes. At least, those are the rumors that I’ve heard.”
The alliance that I am working to set up between countries is not a usual military alliance, but one whose sole purpose is to fight against Shadow Demons. All members of this alliance must be treated as equals. In other words, I don’t really want to be involved with civil rebellions and national power struggles and the like.
“But well, let’s put that aside for now.”
“This is what ‘buying the spurs before the swift horse’ means. Before worrying about that, what we have to focus on at the moment is forming that alliance with Battleaxe Village, right?”
Irudo and I had to nod in agreement with what was most likely this world’s idiom equivalent of ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch.’
Several uneventful days passed as we steadily made progress toward Battleaxe Village, going along a road that passes by numerous huge rocks and runs up and down large slopes.. We are finally about half a day away from Battleaxe Village.
As the road is currently sandwiched between two cliffs, Leiha had gone ahead first.
“My lord! There is a strange figure in front……!”
She is now back with a strange look on her face.
“It almost looks like a giant…… please be on your guard.”
Claura and I reach for our staves, Ted and the young soldiers their weapons. Leid unsheathes his huge sword and comes to my side.
“It does not seem like it has noticed us yet, but…… it is moving about erratically.”
“Whatever it is, let’s take a look.”
If it is a monster that is simply huge in size, then it wouldn’t be much of a threat. Rather, types that are fast and have numbers are the scary ones.
Seeing the usually calm and composed Leiha being so flustered, we all move to higher ground and carefully peek over.
The first thing that we see are two mountains lined up like a wall far in the distance. One of them is most likely a volcano, as there is smoke rising up from somewhere near its peak.
Then, at a considerable distance in front of those two mountains, there is a rocky mountain about a third of their size. I can’t see distinctly due to it being so far away, but I think I see a lot of artificial items attached to the rocky mountain. Since this road clearly leads straight towards that mountain, it is most likely Battleaxe Village.
“…… What is that……”
“Human? But then……”
“Its proportions are all wrong.”
Claura, Leid, and I are staring intently at a human-like…… something. It has two fat arms and legs, a short and stout torso, and looks uncouth but very strong.
It is standing roughly midway between us and the rocky mountain. In order to reach the mountain, we would have to pass underneath the legs of that figure.
With the road and nearby rocks as comparison, it is clearly……
“I believe it is about twice the size of those Forest Giants under my lord’s employ.”
So commentates Leiha with a serious face.
Despite what I said earlier about not being scared of monsters with only size on their side, this was unexpected. It’s almost the size of a mobile suit, isn’t it.
What also draws our eyes are several circular shapes in the vicinity that, though not as large as the humanoid figure, are still of very considerable size. The most apt description I can think of are the ferris wheels at amusement parks. There are 5 or 6 of those things standing up straight on the ground, rotating even at this very moment.
“Is, it moving?”
Not the circular shapes, the humanoid figure.
Slowly, it raises a single arm in a jerky motion, then bends both knees…… straightening back up…… and a variety of other movements that I don’t know whether to call dancing or exercising.
“Aa-, Anikiii, aren’t we in a pinch?”
“D-, don’t be stupid. Margils-sama can take care of something like that in one shot, alright? One shot!”
The soldiers are growing restless, but Ted barely manages to hold them in check. Thankfully, the figure is not displaying any intention of coming our way, but……
“Have the dwarves been raising a giant like that? Or perhaps are they being attacked……”
“U-, umm, Margils-sama.”
As we are exchanging looks at this completely unexpected encounter, Irudo calls out to me.
“If I remember correctly, Margils-sama, you carry an item that allows you to observe things from far away, do you not? Please use it to take a proper look.”
Oh right, I do have the Telescope Lens on me.
I pull out the item that is effectively a telescope from my sling bag and peer into it……
“Let’s see, let’s see……”
What I see through the lens is a ‘super gigantic dwarf statue’ dancing with strange moves, with water wheels turning in the background.