Early in the morning, the expedition party was finally lined up in a row and left on schedule riding on the skeleton carriages.
Last night, I handed out various cloaks and ponchos to the 66 people that were heading out this time around. They were specifically customized to their specific tastes. These were the items that I had the leprechauns start making earlier. To note, I specifically made it so both me and Kanami-chan both have the same poncho type.
I distributed the rest of the coats and various clothing to the other group members staying behind. On the back of the overcoat is the emblem of the mercenary group Parabellum, with another insignia on the right shoulder that indicated what corps that person belonged to. On the left side of the chest, the individual's rank was indicated with golden thread.
You can tell what corps a person belongs to with a mere glance. It also allows other members of the group to easily determine the person's rank. The material is made of a combination of items dropped by various creatures such as the Minotaur. The leprechauns made this material by combining my own thread with various ingredients from monsters such as Powdered Turtle Snake Shell and Crystal Crocodile Skin using special techniques.
Combining these items created a peculiar thread that granted protection from both heat and cold, was fairly water resistant and had a quite high durability. The materials are normally quite expensive to obtain given that their drop rate is rather low, but since Minokichi-kun's group killed Minotaurs and other bosses in large quantities while they were at the Labyrinth City before, we had obtained a decent quantity of these materials.
The embroidery of the overcoat was of a superior quality as well, giving it even more protection than some new brand armors would have given, especially with the enchantments that were added into it. Mass production of the overcoats has been scheduled and I fully plan on having them adopted as the standard equipment for Parabellum in the future.
Now then, let's talk about the expedition. Although this is only the second expedition out of the forest using the skeleton carriages, some routes had already been established. This included the shortest route to get out of the forest from the base.
When the skeleton carriages advanced on difficult to traverse terrain such as the underbrush and overgrown forest/ mountain paths, they are able to change their shape according to the route, allowing them to more easily traverse the terrain.
Given the fact they're technically undead, they've also had a special coating applied that grants them a resistance to sunlight.
In the beginning, we spent a lot of time getting out of the forest as we had to make sure to cover our route out of the forest. That was to ensure that our path couldn't be tracked back to our base.
While following the route, the expedition group had to form a line since the path was only wide enough to pass a single carriage at a time.
Of course, this is only until we get out of the forest.
After we exit the forest, the group will split up and head out to each of their respective destinations.
Now, as for the groups I mentioned before:
The first group is heading towards the Royal Capital Osvel is led by me.
There are 24 members aside from myself including Kanami-chan, Redhead, Wind Lord-chan and Seiji-kun. We're using four skeleton carriages.
The second group led by Minokichi-kun is headed for Labyrinth City Purgatory where they will train and gather more materials.
There are 20 members with him including Asue-chan as well as several Lords and the Monkeys. They have three skeleton carriages.
The final group is comprised of those that have worked hard within the group and is heading to the Sternbild Kingdom and Kirika Empire so that the members that the group comprises of can visit their families.
The people receiving this reward were those that went with Minokichi-kun's group before. It also includes their guard detail, for a total number of 22 people. They have three skeleton carriages.
That's the situation with the three groups that are heading out. Though each group will have their own toils and situations, we cannot allow any blunders to happen. When I think about blunders... I get an unpleasant feeling. Well, since it's pointless to worry about these things, I just need to move on and deal with anything as it happens.
This time, on our journey towards the Royal Capital, we didn't take the regular breaks that we had on the previous trip since I decided that we should cover as much distance as possible to get there quickly.
Because the skeleton carriages move in such a way that the passengers barely feel any movement whatsoever, equipment maintenance, studying and other nimble tasks are fairly easy to accomplish.
Our travel time was to be used as efficiently as possible. Thus, by the evening, we had already crossed the large plains and hilly areas and managed to pass through the mountain path that the Falaise Eagles resided in.
All in all, we covered quite a bit of distance today. Although a considerable amount of time was used as we stopped to regularly hunt the monsters of the various areas that we missed our first time through, the fact we advanced this far in one day is worthy of making a note of. Given that the skeleton carriages don't get tired and can travel at the same speed as a regular horse drawn carriage, they seem like they are an excellent form of transportation. In addition, the skeleton carriages can be modified to turn them into primitive tanks. There are certainly quite a few uses for them.
In the evening, we decided to make camp in an open field off of the highway while I was considering the great potential for the skeleton carriages in the future.
They could even be modified into tents if the need arose. They certainly are convenient after all.
Since we had not done much training today, we trained extra hard for two hours this evening.
Although Fire Lord-kun was in my group previously, there was also a Dragonewt by the name of Ramura-san here this time.
She's a well-endowed beauty with fair skin that has golden colored hair that reaches down to her waist as well as having deep, golden eyes.
She has two horns that extend from her forehead and curve backwards. From her hips extended a long and thin tail, she also possessed a yellow dragon Orb in the center of her forehead.
Since the training focused on assessing their strength, Ramura-san and several other members ended up severely injured.
Fortunately, because Seiji-kun is in our group, they were safe since he was able to heal even serious injuries in a few moments. After that, Kanami-chan who was holding back, and Redhead, who was going all-out had a sparring match.
Their appearance bathed in moonlight was extremely beautiful. Sigh, Kanami-chan and Redhead are simply stunning tonight....
Today's synthesis results:
[Crescent Flash] + [Flying Slash] = [Flying Crescent Flash]
Today, we ended up continuing to ride in the carriages on the highway.
We ended up reaching the Fortress City of Trient at around 10AM.
As it stands, we had no outstanding issues entering Trient.
Since I had the opportunity to do so, I paid a visit to the gambling loving deputy manager of the farming company.
While there, I inquired about the market prices for buying and selling monster materials.
We departed from the town in less than an hour since we were trying to get to our destination without getting too sidetracked.
After that, we traveled down the highway at a fairly leisurely pace for some time, since we were good on time, we stopped in an area that the Big Cocco resided in order to acquire some lunch.
The raw meat from the Big Cocco was similar to that of a large chicken.
When you cook them, their juices overflow into your mouth, the meat is tender and delicious. As you take bites of the meat, it just makes you long for some rice to eat with it.
This barbecue is simply amazing though it's a bit regrettable we didn't have any salt to add into it though.
Then Redhead informed me that once a day at 2AM the Big Coccos seem to lay three eggs.
If a person has the skill to control the Big Cocco, effectively a monster to note, they make good domestic animals.
Since there was some room in our carriages this time around, I decided to turn four big and plump ones into familiars to bring along with us.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning. Should I make omelettes or fried eggs to eat?
In this way, we became involved with some armed men while we were eating our peaceful lunch. Two of the approaching men were rather obese. Their armor seemed like it wasn't made for combat since there wasn't a single scratch and it shined pointlessly.
The other one seemed abnormally thin and had a monk's robe made of silver thread and a wand with a gem centered in on it.
The other young man seemed like he was equipped to be a knight, though he was fairly solidly built and did seem to actually be suitable for fighting, his armor was pointlessly decorated.
Their group led by these four people totaled 34 people.
Other than the four people leading who were probably from nobility, the rest of them seemed to have equipment for actual combat.
They seemed to have equipment that had been used for many years while the four's equipment was practically new.
However, there seemed to be some peasantry mixed in amongst the thirty people. There was an old man with a long beard holding a lance as well.
Several middle-aged men were wearing bulky armor and wielding a large sword.
They seemed to have considerable skill since I could smell a large quantity of blood that was clinging to their bodies.
I'm sure they had killed a few dozen people at the very least given the quantity of blood upon their person.
Although some of the people stimulated my appetite and seemed worth me eating them. I quietly suppressed it and decided to observe the situation for awhile as I noticed that some of their group were people that I, in my ever growing lust for information, could infect with my parasites and brainwash.
A few minutes passed and now it seems like the reason they picked a fight with us was because two of the six beautiful women from Kanami-chan and Ramura-san, appeared to have stimulated the senses of the four nobles.
Of the four nobles, it seems that one of them is a noble's son that used his membership in the ≪Antegra Lance≫ sword training school to make connections.
Since going out to hunt for monsters is a common occurrence, it seems they employ private soldiers and often act in various ways.
A summary of what they said to me was, "Hand over the women to us."
It wasn't just those two, they also included Redhead] and Wind Lord-san into their demands.
Although the four nobles' purpose seemed to be only Kanami-chan and Ramura-san, it's likely they planned to give the rest of the girls to their subordinates to... use.
The depressing truth is that this is the very typical attitude of the hopeless nobility of humanity.
If it's true that the nobles of this world have received a high level of education, then why do they always end up doing the same exact thing with their power and authority?
While I let out a disgusted sigh, the men encircled us, making it hard for us to get away.
There wasn't a single hint of hesitation in their movement, though, there wasn't any fighting spirit in their actions either. It was obvious that they were experienced with these specific movements. It seems that up until now, they have been taking various positions to finish their encirclement.
They drew their weapons as they began dawning their expressive and vulgar smiles that resembled their very obvious sadistic hearts. They've sunken just about as low as the depraved depths of greed and lust can take humans.
From the looks, they've probably sunken most of their money into buying new magical items for more or less the entire group. Taking that into account, as well as the fact that they've surrounded us, if it were a normal group of sub-humans fighting against these humans, it would certainly become very difficult to overcome this situation.
Moreover, they have not only superior numbers, they also have the geographical and positional advantages.
In the first place, the nobles of this world and myself both have the [Lineage] system, which I had acquired and was able to comprehend thanks to my abilities.
This easily makes me stronger than your average person. If a peasant and a noble have the same job, then at the same level, the noble will have an edge over them.
Just because of that, upon observing the location of where the four nobles were at, the thin boy, without a doubt possesses [Job - Wizard].
Of the four leaders, based on his appearance, the young man with the Knight-like equipment most likely holds [Job - Knight].
Although the equipment was uselessly flashy and excessive, they seemed to be strong enough to fight with.
It seems that referring to the two remaining people with obese figures as common soldiers matches them well, although since they are equipped with high priced magical items, calling them commanding officers would probably be more suitable.
...Hmmmm... Now then, what should I do? Should I choose to attack them, should I let the others kill them, or do I do it alone Decisions decisions. While I was considering this, they obviously got impatient and raised their hands to signal their men to attack us. One of the obese guys gave one of his subordinates with his chin, with the subordinate next to me complying.
As he reached Kanami-chan who had been closest to him, he extended his hand.
When his finger came into contact with her shoulder though... In an instant, the head of the subordinate that had touched her shoulder flew high into the sky.
For a brief moment, fresh blood gushed out from the neck where the head was cut off before gravity took over and the body collapsed.
Because I was right next to her, both Kanami-chan and myself had our bodies thoroughly soaked by the blood rain.... The meal topped off with a small sampling of human blood gave off a somewhat complicated taste...
Well, delicious is delicious, but it's a bit of a negative that the blood of the underling was unpleasant. The syrupy blood indicated that he probably lived a very unhealthy lifestyle in various ways.
What's this guy thinking to make others uncomfortable even after his death.
Ah... By the way, after the first victim appeared, Kanami-chan had already started losing control and started to act violently. Considering the violent state that she's already in, I somewhat want to stop her already... Would you say that these feelings she has surpasses normal rage...?
Kanami-chan's excessive fury had caused her to become expressionless and was moving at high speeds while swinging her claymore. The human bodies that met with her blade were ripped apart like they were paper. The human bodies, made of soft flesh, was easily torn apart and scattered by her continuous and destructive strikes.
With the mass production of flesh and a unending sea of blood, she brought forth ice spikes from the void which froze the flesh and blood to form a mountain of corpses. Then, only slightly ahead of the overwhelming slaughter, a veteran soldier turned to counterattack.
However, because of the [Vampire Noble - Variant] possesses the very powerful [Eyes of Bewitchment], which automatically kicks in when she removes her glasses, he nearly instantly yielded before her.
With her this angry, the power of Kanami-chan's eyes were far too strong, there were few who could even resist.
There were even two people who could resist Kanami-chan's gaze, however, she was able to crush them by surrounding them with her captivated prisoners.
This was essentially bullying. It wasn't a fight...the battle was on the level of a slaughter.
However, since annihilating them would cause the loss of valuable raw materials, I embraced Kanami-chan from behind, snapping her back to reality.
She won't stop easily if I don't do something of this caliber to embarrass her, but considering her personality, it really can't be helped.
After that, in addition to the four people who had either parts or their entire limbs forcibly torn off, such as their hands and feet, that had passed out in agony, I surveyed the survivors as I brutally gathered them up in one place.
While I gave them medical treatment with my [Blood Elixir], I also decided to use my parasitic clones on all of them.
Nobles are typically more delicious than ordinary people. This is something that I have learned from many experiences and now, four of them are before my eyes. They are a bit young, but I may get something out of them nonetheless.
However, I refrained from eating these four for now.
They have already been allowed to return as spies, since they are my slaves sent to collect information. The reason I didn't eat these them is that I came to the conclusion that there are various benefits to be had by letting them leave alive.
One way or another, the more sources of information, the better. Information concerning the organization ≪Antegra Lance≫, such as departure place of corrupt nobles to be killed will become easy to obtain, or at least easier. Besides, when I think about the assets that these four people's families possess, it would be a waste to simply eat them now.
Having said that, the four were turned into my slaves with my parasitic clones. I turned towards them and smiled, causing them to turn pale. Moreover, as I passed them, they turned white as a sheet and fainted.
Was it a bad idea to eat the corpses in front of them I wonder?
After placing the parasitic clones into the backs of all of the surviving members, we left and continued to advance along our route. It's troublesome to take it now. At some point we may come across others.
When that happens, I may decide whether to eat them or keep them as my slaves.
After the events that had transpired yesterday, we quickly made our way through Shirisuka Forest before finally arriving at Mason Village .
We finally arrived at Mason Village at around three in the afternoon.
Although we could have easily continued on without shopping, the women, led by Kanami-chan and Redhead... convinced me to stay overnight.
What can I say... I was bribed... thoroughly...
At any rate, the hot springs here are said to have a rejuvenating effect on one's skin and many of the women in the group were exceptionally happy as a result.
As expected, there was still plenty of time and we were far ahead of schedule, so it shouldn't be a problem.
There was also a considerable support from the male members of the group to stay the night as well.
I discovered them suspended from trees using ropes in the morning, the reason for their situation was so obvious there is absolutely no reason to investigate it any further.
Personally, I didn't mind staying either since the effects of Mason Village's hot springs were far different from those at our base and left us fully refreshed and invigorated.
To say nothing of the hot springs themselves, the worker's posture, attitude and other aspects of serving their guests is very useful information and can honestly be used as a reference point for our own springs at a later date.
Some of this could immediately be put into use at our hot springs... so maybe I should send word to do that later...
It might be good to consider new ideas from time to time.
Having said that, should I also have the leprechauns make Japanese-style clothing next? ... The image of Kanami-chan and the rest of the girls in Kimonos.... I'll have to consider this idea further...
Well, as usual, I awoke quite early in the morning, through this time it was for the purpose of slow-boiling the eggs that the Big Coccos laid in the hot springs, of which everyone ate together.
After breakfast, we did some light training, after which, I once more entered the hot spring to cleanse myself of my sweat and fatigue. Enjoying the hot springs as I moved around, I came upon a large waterfall, another one of the famous sights of the village.
I relaxed for awhile in front of the large waterfall and although it remained unchanged itself, the point where the cool water met with the water of the hot springs caused mist to rise up.
This caused the surrounding temperature to rapidly fall, which is quite nice for cooling an overheating body.
Moreover, deep within the springs, I sensed the presence of an incredibly powerful creature, most likely a species of dragon, that is probably considered the guardian deity of this region that I had been told of when we had first visited the village.
When we came here before, I was a Great Ogre, so there was, at best, an incredibly low chance of victory.
However, considering the fact that i'm now an Apostle Lord, the chances of my victory is probably much higher now.
I do really enjoy Mason village though.
The hot springs are great and the welcoming disposition of the residents is nice.
If I were to fight this dragon, then i'm sure that Mason Village would be destroyed in the fallout of the battle.
Even if I did manage to defeat it, i'm sure the surrounding area would be changed dramatically from the battle.
Naturally though, I really do want to see the dragon...
However, I suppressed this desire as it's probably best for me not to encounter it and be tempted to do something i'll regret.
It's also probably a good idea to wait for a good chance to see one, since i'm sure it would be easy to encounter one if I entered a dungeon, it's probably necessary for me to challenge one at some point.
Thinking this, I turned my back on the waterfall and began heading back towards Mason Village.
When I did so, I sensed a powerful presence looking at me from behind, though I disregarded it and continued to return to the village.
We left Mason village at around eleven in the morning.
After crossing the Cluster Mountains where Auro and Argento were born, we arrived at the Labyrinth City, Purgatory, in the later part of the evening.
We decided to stay in Purgatory for the night since we need to prepare for our arrival at the Royal Capital Osvel tomorrow.
We left the Labyrinth City Purgatory early in the morning and safely arrived at the Royal Capital Ósvel just before noon.
The liveliness of the city hadn't changed since the last time we were here.
The streets were packed with people and there were brick houses every which way you looked.
Carriages coming and going across the stone pavement which covered the surface of every street.
On the main street, various shops lined the street with just as many stalls and merchants going every which way.
Voices in high spirits fluttered in the air as goods and money exchanged hands rapidly.
Then we noticed that we had near countless eyes concentrated on us, a mixed gaze of both fear and inquisitiveness.
Adventurers diverted the crowd that was watching us while a great number of the spies from the Sternbild Kingdom and other countries were observing us from the shadows.
Despite the fact that it was shining with prosperity, there were also darker feelings swirling about, the Royal Capital certainly hadn't changed.
Then again, it would be abnormal if it HAD changed within the short span of time since our last time here.
Just like when we were previously here, as we crossed into the section of the city that the Royal Palace resides in, we received an even greater scale of attention than before.
Like this, we safely arrived before the gates of the Amber Palace.
Before the gates stood Boy Knight with the Princess, escorted with numerous female palace guards accompanying her.
She donned her usual carefree smile that was quite appropriate for her age.
Even though I reported our arrival through the communication cuff beforehand, normally you wouldn't think that a Princess would come out to greet her guest personally.
That being the case, although it can't be helped, I may have been a considerably bad influence on the Princess as common sense doesn't seem to apply to her in the least.
Our reunion began with a quick exchange of greetings.
Afterwards, the Princess immediately declared to me, with some feeling, "Don't move, for just a short while, you have to become a giant tree, i'm climbing up."
I simply responded to this by saying, "Watch your step".
After which she stood at my feet and began to climb up my body.
Seeing as how she was already wearing clothes that were easy to move around in, it seems that she intended to do this from the very beginning.
In addition to being amazed, I also let out a sigh of relief.
It reminded me of a time when my niece came to play, and I eventually stopped shaking her off of me.
Sometimes, the Princess seemed like she was about to slide off, so I gave her a little assistance.
As the Princess safely reached my shoulder, she exclaimed,
With a triumphant look on her face, and then began to survey her surroundings. Thinking she was satisfied, I considered lowering her back down. However, I instantly gave up on that notion since the Princess would obviously refuse. It was in this way that we set foot in the Amber Palace with the Princess astride upon my shoulder.
The Amber Palace hadn't changed and those seeing it for the first time were distracted by its elegance.
Seiji-kun had a particularly large reaction seeing it as he seemed to have been left speechless. After a clap of the hands, they seemed to more or less return to their senses with a small jump and we began to work. For the time being, we unloaded our luggage from the carriage and brought it into the rooms we will be staying in.
After quickly deciding who will be in which room, we gave a very quick self-introduction.
During this time, the Princess was most surprised when Auro and Argento were introduced.
Regrettably, it's because she's still a baby, Nicola stayed at home with Alchemist-san.
Oniwaka became emotionally attached to Minokichi-kun so he didn't stay with my group...
Auro and Argento wanted to come along with me though.
Due to the specific traits of their race, their bodies have already grown quite big. Although I say that, it seems that their growth speed cannot be compared to the normal members of their race.
Still, the Princess, who had held those two in her arms as newborns, held her mouth open in surprise as the fact that they had already grown so much in such a short period of time. Considering that it's usually the Tomboy Princess herself that is surprising people, it seemed quite unusual for her to be caught off guard and surprised instead.
Although the Boy Knight and other Royal Guards were also surprised, they looked on with calm smiles.
Then, for today's evening meal, the Princess held a grand banquet for us.
I was treated to various types of alcohol which I drank in a great quantity.
Although the majority of them were not as good as Elven wine, it was still all high class alcohol and I was thoroughly satisfied with all of them.
As expected of the Royal Family, amongst what was served, the alcohol found in dungeons was especially delicious.
I have completely decided at this point that I will enter a dungeon alone at some point soon in search of both alcohol and a dragon.
Fortunately, since the Royal Capital is within an hour's flying distance of the Labyrinth City Purgatory, I think I will be able to get a day off eventually.
As was decided yesterday, given that the Princess's request this time was for me to act as the training instructor for the Amber Palace's guards, I began training with the palace guards quite early in the morning.
However, because it would not be a good idea for me to gather all of the palace guards at once for training, I decided it to be best to split them up into several groups instead.
It seems that the Princess has reserved the Amber Palace's training grounds for us, so I took the initiative and began giving the first group their basic training there. I decided to corner them until they reached their limit while also dishing out a substantial level of verbal abuse to the extent of making myself sound as if I was a sergeant.
Thus, in the evening, whith all thirty members of the first group of palace guards completely worn out and beaten, I had Seiji-kun treat them.
In the beginning, it seemed some of the palace guards weren't intent on taking this seriously. It seems these pitiable palace guards had some complaints.
Later on for the members of the group that could still move despite their fatigue, I held my standard sparring sessions which seemed to put an end to the complaints. Really, I want more out of these palace guards and to force them to do their best since they were hand picked to protect the Princess.
While training the second group of palace guards this morning, a messenger came to me around noon with a message from the Tomboy Princess' mother, the First Queen.
In case you were wondering, this is the exact same queen that is deeply religious that I had worries about before....
As I expected, there wasn't any way that she wouldn't contact us during our stay here.
Honestly though, I'm not too worried about trouble, especially given that she actually went through the trouble of approaching us first. That being said, I came to the conclusion that it's not necessarily possible to decline her invitation without consequence.
It looks like I have been invited to eat lunch with the First Queen. It seemed pretty reasonable for me to be summoned to do so, so in all honesty, it really can't be helped at all. Though all the same, it's something i'd prefer to avoid.
I was informed that I'm allowed to bring one partner along, so I had Kanami-chan accompany me.
After that, the Princess brought the Boy Knight along with her which gave us a total count of four people.
Although there were many palace guards and maids in the area, we were left completely alone. Lunch took place in a very beautiful courtyard located deep within the Platinum Palace in which the Queen took her residence.
The queen that was hosting the lunch resembled the Tomboy Princess quite a bit. She had long silver hair that seemed to shine beautifully with her deep, golden colored eyes. The Queen's skin was fair which combined with her other features, only seemed to make her even more beautiful, yet her skin did give her a touch of frailty and give her a sickly looking nature. It seemed that the lunch was not going to be full of hearty meat dishes, but instead a light meal centered upon bread and vegetables. For myself, I wanted to consume a vast quantity of delicious meat, so I found the bread and vegetables that were offered to be highly unsatisfactory, however, at least Kanami-chan seemed to enjoy it... Even though the amount and type of food wasn't sufficient for me personally, I quietly stifled my dissatisfaction since it DID taste delicious...
As for the queen, when we spoke, she didn't give off a bad impression. This is probably because she spoke to me with actual respect, or to be more precise... she spoke to me with respect and... affection... or perhaps I should rather say that there weren't any negative emotions in her speech. Her attitude was similar to a believer who genuinely viewed the person in front of her with great respect. There were no signs of impending outbursts of violence, such as attempting to kill me and devouring my body which carries a god's divine protection in a zealous attempt to cleanse one's whole body by bathing in my fresh blood or using my bones as sacred adornments... While feeling relieved at those points, I decided to observe my surroundings.
In the end, it was quite a worthwhile lunch part.
The first impression I had of the queen has changed.
It seems that she has an amiable character. It may have been possible for this acquaintanceship to change into a good friendship in time. ...Or... At least that's what I thought for a moment... After we finished with the lunch and returned to the Amber Palace, my clone which I had left in the Platinum Palace witnessed the final event.
This event in particular, convinced me that I wanted as little to do with the queen as physically, and or in any other shape or form, possible.
To quickly summarize what happened without touching on this subject for too long... it went something like this:
Naturally, after we finished eating and returned, there was the used tableware left behind.
Of course, one would expect the table to be cleared of it's tableware and completely cleaned to be prepared for the next time it would be used.
However, the Queen willingly picked up the knife and fork that I used this time and fell into a trance as she passionately licked them clean with an... overly enthusiastic look on her face...
Then, the beautiful noblewomen with fair skin, shining silver hair and golden colored pupils let out an extremely... alluring sound. In any case... Is licking the silverware that I used that delightful...?
The Platinum Palace's guards in the vicinity of the Queen, which seemed to be almost all women, watched the queen with envious expressions on their faces.
What the hell is going on...?
Also, why was the tableware that was licked clean placed into a luxurious case of it's own and put into a display case in the Queen's bedroom? There were an endless tide of questions that I wanted to ask, however, I honestly have no further wish to become better acquainted with the Queen after this series of events.
My story about the Queen, which has easily exceeded my common sense in various ways, ends here. I determined that it was best to proactively avoid associating with her... sigh... at least for the time being... Shaking off the scene I had just witnessed...
I decided to take all of my confusion and frustration out on the training the group of palace knights for the rest of the afternoon to put this behind me.
This morning, I began the training of the third group of palace guards.
Unfortunately... it was raining that day.
The condition of the training grounds was horrible, the ground, which had absorbed a large quantity of water had become very muddy and thus very slippery. This made it difficult to keep your footing and move around in. Most of all, our clothes became filthy.
A high percentage of the Amber Palace's guards that were women voiced a desire to cancel the training session, however, I encouraged them to continue regardless. Their objections were thoroughly silenced with hard training and forced effort.
Moreover, with their bodies exhausted, the meal they had afterwards tasted was even more delicious. Maybe I should continue this carrot and stick policy to encourage more effort.
For now though, I think it's important for them to be able to fight even if the weather's bad, it's something that you cannot control.
When the time comes to defend the [Royal Family], you don't get to choose the weather.
Although I don't think I want to do this everyday, it's a good idea to mix it up every once in awhile.
I'll try to keep this in mind.
I entrusted today's training to Kanami-chan since today I am rather forcefully being taken by the Tomboy Princess to meet with her father, the King.
The meeting, with the exception of us, was full of many nobles voicing their complaints, many of which were being rather overly exaggerated. I'll leave out a majority of the lengthy conversation, but it seems that the Sternbild Kingdom has recognized us as the Princess' private soldiers. Since we're mercenaries, once we finish our job and collect the reward, we'd be free to join the opposing faction.
However, it seems that the Princess has, in some way, spread that we have been recognized as her private army. When I carried her into the meeting on my shoulder, she acted as if she was connected to it.
To the Sternbild Kingdom, we're already part of the faction that protects the Princess, so it seems very unlikely that we'd be hired by someone else. Considering the hostile glares that they were giving us, I'm guessing that the Nobles Faction, centered around the Minister, is most likely the opposing faction.
Well, so long as we're paid, it's not a particularly big issue, however, I can't make light of the fact that our opportunity to escape was cut off.
With an adorable expression, the Princess conducted her business like royalty would. Well, since I'm also using the Princess in various ways, I guess this is fair trade-off of sorts.
I let out a small sigh. For the time being, it seems that the Tomboy Princess' private army has caused the higher ups of the Sternbild Kingdom to be cautious. It also seems likely that people who fear the power that she possesses will try to assassinate her.
Taking this into consideration, I decided to set up some traps in order to stop any assassination attempts that were going to take place in the Amber Palace that we're staying at. There's no problem if they only target me, but I will NEVER tolerate them going after Auro and the others.
In the evening, given that my shoulders were stiff by the end of the meeting, I received a massage from Kanami-chan after we entered the bath. The way her beautiful hands moved was... fascinating.
In any case, by the end of the day, I was pretty tired, so it was a good chance to relax and... let off some steam.
Early in the morning, just before we left, the assassins came.
While most of them were either caught or killed in the traps I set up last night, only one actually managed to get past them and make it into my bedroom. The man that invaded was wearing a mask and black cloths and had a knife that was dripping with a purple liquid. Still drowsy, I faced the man and went to seize him when both [Intuition] and [Release Trap] set off very violent warning bells in my head.
After blinking a few times, I noticed the reason why I was getting these warnings.
Apparently, something quite similar to a bomb had been buried inside of his body. What had saved us is that it seems that the bomb will not activate from a distance.
Well, this is certainly annoying...
For the time being, I couldn't kill him because the others would have gotten caught up in his suicide attack, I'm fine with taking a bit of damage, I'll just heal instantly, but I'm not willing to put the others in harms way needlessly.
In the end, I just used [Parasite] and forcibly made him into my slave.
Although it was my intention to immobilize him and withdraw information with my finger, it seems that their free will and memories had been intentionally wiped clean. Most likely by using either magic or a specific magical item to manipulate their minds.
The rest of the men who were captured were in the same state, assassins that were more or less just meat puppets. I couldn't even give them orders, they were just empty shells.
I was able to take away their physical freedom by using my parasitic clones to make them into my slaves, but their minds were broken from the beginning and I don't have any reason to try and restore them. It's no use, so I'll just have to give up on trying to draw out any real information from these doll-like would-be assassins.
I inserted a clone into their bodies and removed the magical item near their hearts. In doing so, the assassin's chest burst open from the inside, that part couldn't be helped though.
The bodies of the assassins were eaten in their entirety and while I was at it, I also ate the magic item's explosive device as well.
Ability unlocked: [Burst]
Ability unlocked: [Human Bomb]
Although there was no way to trace their equipment back to the person who sent them, since I took the assassin's gear, I did secure a small amount of profit.
After eating them, I gave the Princess my report. She responded to it with,
"I see, if that's the case, we must find the culprits immediately. It'll be a good way to vent today's anger and dissatisfaction when we find them."
Well, I thought that the Princess would be able to determine the culprit immediately, but I guess not. Afterwards, since I have grasped the general strength and general habits of the palace guards, I had them separate into groups and do basic training in shifts.
From this point on, I intend to strengthen each section a great deal.
Today, the palace guards only had to do training in the morning since we're going to be heading out to the palace's surrounding town in the afternoon.
It's been decided that we'll go around the town with the Tomboy Princess as her guard detail. Because it's the first time most of the group have been out on an expedition, I took this opportunity to give each of them, including Seiji-kun, the day off.
They decided to look around the Royal Capital on their own, however, I don't know where the hand of an assassin might strike from, so I gave them instructions to stay relatively close to one another.
Just in case, I gave them each one of my clones because the clone's combat ability is reasonably high. So in the case something happens, they should be okay, most likely at any rate.
Basically, if anyone tries to kidnap or kill them, the clone should attack the enemy immediately so it should be fine.
Back to the main issue of the Princess' guard detail. The people from Parabellum are myself, Kanami-chan, Redhead, Auro and Argento, just these five people in total.
In addition, the Boy Knight and ten or so palace guards that have changed into normal clothes will be coming along as well.
This is our current group. Until now, dozens of guards have usually made up the guard detail, so this number has decreased significantly. However, well... it should be alright.
Like this, we walked around and visited several places. We didn't just explore along the main street, but also along the side streets and the back alleyways as well. All according to the instructions of the Princess sitting upon my shoulder.
One could get turned around very easily in the back alleyways. I observed the crime scene of a human abduction as well as crushing several assassins that I encountered. Well, given the fact that we found a well-known store, I'd say the day was well worthwhile.
Since I have a full day off in two days, I have decided when that moment comes, I will go to the Labyrinth City Purgatory for a short time. I also hope to find some dungeon alcohol as well as some decent monsters that I haven't encountered yet to eat them and gain some new abilities.
Yeah, I'm looking forward to it, I seriously can't wait....