The True State of the Allied Nations
Leaves of the Drakon Kidney Flower – an ingredient for the antidote to the poison afflicting the principal’s nephew. League was saying to help the principal.
「Why do you want me to do that?」
「…That’s a good question.」
「Is she from Rumania?」
「No. If she were, her clan could do something about her problem. She’s from Zubura.」
「You don’t know about the place? Ah, yes. Most foreigners don’t really know about the Zubura. It’s the smallest nation in the alliance.」
Rumania: the biggest nation in terms of population and military strength, where clans had authority.
Kirihal and Ludancia – both strong, but were on really bad terms with each other.
Jarazack – a nation fostering its unique culture and home to a race of hairy people.
Zubura – the smallest nation of them all.
Euraba – home to a blue-skinned race of people.
Kotobi – a country that produced precious metals in huge quantities.
「See, it would be bad if a person from Zubura was killed by a Ponsonian. If Zubura asked for compensation from Ponsonia, that would strain diplomatic relations. But if a Ponsonian saved them, I think things will be settled peacefully.」
「Did I say I was from Ponsonia?」
「No. But someone from a neighboring country wealthy enough to come to Forestia can only be Ponsonia. Am I wrong?」
「No, you’re right. But will things really settle down if I saved the principal’s nephew? It won’t change the fact that he got injured by Ponsonia.」
「That’s true. But you see, people from Zubura have a unique view on life: “forgive those who wish for forgiveness”.」
「You’re telling me to ask for forgiveness?」
「That would be better, but I know I can’t ask you do that much. But you have the desire to rank up as an adventurer and there’s a perfect request before you. You just need the appropriate reward to give you that push. Correct?」
「Why do you care so much about Zubura? You’re from Rumania.」
「A very good question. I guess I’ll have to explain things from the top.」League said, taking a sip of his tea that was going cold.「While we call ourselves the “allied nations” of Forestia, that is only in name. In reality, there hasn’t been any sort of cooperation between the seven nations.」
All the important positions in Forestia, the throne included, were filled through rotation. The king or queen had ten years of service, while the rest didn’t have any fixed term. Every year, during the long winter, there was political strife as to who would take the positions next year. As a result, it was difficult to manage long-term business. Most settled for short-term ones.
「That sounds awfully unproductive.」
「Having long winters is good then, isn’t it? Even if there were internal conflicts, it won’t be leaked outside. Plus other countries will only see dry, barren lands.」Lavia joined in.
「You sure don’t mince your words, Lavia.」Hikaru said.
「It’s just as Miss Lavia said. We’ve somehow managed to get by all this time, but we’re almost at our limits. The flood control projects and monster hunting at the border have been on hold ever since the alliance was formed. A great disaster might occur any time soon and I want to stop that from happening.」
He seemed like an emotionless guy, but he was surprisingly passionate deep inside.
「And helping the principal will lead to that?」
「Zubura doesn’t hold a lot of important positions; the principal of the National Academic Research Institute is one of the few they have. There are people who are trying to fuel her grudge against Ponsonia so she would act recklessly. If the principal blurts out something uncalled-for or does something rash, Zubura will have fewer positions next year. They call this “decreasing posts” or “sowing seeds” which will then be “harvested” in the winter political season.」
「Ah, now that you mention it, there was someone egging her on. Mikhail arrived so everything turned out fine, though.」
「Professor Mikhail? He’s impartial – a rarity among the Jarazackians. Did you perhaps go to the academy?」
「Surely, it’s more than just “kinda”. What did you do?」
What now? Hikaru didn’t need to make a good impression on League, but he was ashamed to talk about it.
「This admin staff member got mad at Hikaru so she made him take an exam and he ended up beating Milkhail out cold. He was then summoned by the principal, who found fault with him being from Ponsonia. They’re scum who are better off dead, but Hikaru is a kind-hearted person so he forgave them and enrolled as a scholarship student.」Lavia explained in one go. Just listening to it made Hikaru feel awful.
「You beat Professor Mikhail out cold? You look bothered so it must be true. I now understand how you were able to defeat Roy with only one strike. In fact, I’m glad you didn’t actually kill him.」
「For the record, I am by no means a violent man.」Hikaru said.
「If you’re enrolling into the academy, then all the more reason to help out the principal. It’ll be beneficial for you. How about it?」
「Uh, I don’t really care about it anymore.」
「It’ll put pressure on the staff as well. The academy operates on government funds, so they tend to treat scholarship students poorly, which I find rather disgusting.」
「But students pay high tuition fees…」
「To them they’re doing you a favor by “leting you in”. As for the professors egging the principal on, they’re probably from Kirihal and Ludancia. We Rumanians will keep an eye on them. Will you take the request?」
He’s so persistent, Hikaru thought. It was probably a very important matter for him. No, the issue with the principal was more like a case of a tiny fish bone stuck in one’s throat. It was nothing big. But then came a skilled individual – Hikaru, who happened to be from Ponsonia.
So I’m like a lump of rice here to remove fishbones. I haven’t even been here for long and people already have their eyes on me.
「Hikaru. Please be honest with me. What is it you want? It’s not money, right? Why did you come to the academy? If you’re strong enough to defeat Professor Mikhail, I doubt you have much more to learn. If it’s anything I can help with, I’ll do anything.」
「Well, besides combat training… I guess I want to study magic items.」
「Magic items? What kind? I actually study them myself and am quite knowledgeable, if I do say so myself.」
「Magic items? Not pottery?」
「…Yes. I study them as part of my pottery classes.」
League eyed him suspiciously. Quickly realizing his mistake, Hikaru further added:
「The callus on your fingers. Those are not from martial arts, right?」
「Ah, yes. This is from mixing pottery glazes. You’re quite observant.」
「Does the academy not teach you about magic items?」
「I’d love to, but…」
League’s expression turned sour.
「…The professor is from Kotobi.」
「Someone from a Rumanian clan shouldn’t learn from professors of the other six nations…」
「Are you serious?」
Hikaru leaned back in his chair and heaved a deep sigh.
「You want others to do this and that, but you won’t do things yourself? You wish for the seven nations to progress, right? But you won’t dare call someone from Kotobi your teacher. How is that progressive? You should set a good example for the others.」
「Yes, you’re absolutely right… But my parents actually take care of my finances.」
「I don’t care. First, you should learn to be independent. Next, you study under that professor from Kotobi. And then we’ll talk.」
Hikaru stood up.
「Let’s go, Lavia.」
Dispirited, League didn’t even try to stop Hikaru.