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“There really was one, an unexplored underground ruin.”
“For such a ruin to be located in a basement of Baulburg’s suburbs, how surprising.”
Several days after returning from the entertainment trip, we went on an underground ruin exploration guided by Arnest.
He, who had been confined to a room deep inside my mansion, untiringly worked on the particulars of the underground ruins located in the Baumeister Earldom while we were gone.
『Although it’s just a rough outline; how come that you know their exact locations?』 (Wendelin)
『Maps of the Ancient Magic Civilization’s era are handed down in the demon country.』 (Arnest)
『Isn’t that military information then? Are those maps available to civilian scholars?』 (Wendelin)
『Maps, which were picked up by our ancestors who went on investigations when the Ancient Magic Civilization collapsed more than 10,000 years ago, do exist. However, the maps also have parts that can not be read anymore due to the gradual fading of the printing. As aftereffect of the civilization’s collapse, geographic landmarks and such had also vanished, therefore the particulars are limited to a rough estimation of the underground ruins’ locations. Additionally, even if an underground ruin is discovered, there is no guarantee that we will find things in there that will please you, Earl Baumeister.』 (Arnest)
According to Arnest, it really sounds as if the Ancient Magic Civilization had collapsed and vanished in an instant.
I wonder, just what did those people do?
『It is always the same old story with those who are arrogant. A vast amount of mana that had been gathered in one place exploded. Although it was for the sake of technological progress, they paid a hefty price for it.』 (Arnest)
And I guess that’s why even the demons lost any interest in the Lingaia Continent, which had many things blown away, for more than 10,000 years?
Though I don’t know how it’ll be from now on.
『That means the underground structures that escaped the destruction are the underground ruins.』
『That is how it is. Most of those in the Baumeister Earldom are unexplored. I suppose that is only natural, though.』 (Arnest)
After having heard of those circumstances, we went out to search for underground ruins that should be located in Baulburg’s suburbs today and immediately found one.
Descending into the underground with 『Light』 and starting the search for treasures apparently makes Ina and Luise excited due to it being a work which is the very definition of adventuring.
They enter the underground ruin while acting as vanguards, but…
“Wend, it looks like it’s a miss.” (Luise)
“True. The 『Preservation』 is completely dead, and the dust and mold here is terrible.” (Ina)
Luise and Ina reported to me while covering their mouths and noses with a handkerchief.
“Wend, isn’t this somehow far too old?” (Erwin)
“Correct answer, Erwin. This place is a historic ruin dating back several thousand years before the Ancient Magic Civilization came into existence. It looks like this place had been once excavated during the era of the Ancient Magic Civilization.” (Arnest)
Arnest begins to explain while examining the stones used for the walls and floor.
This is probably another trait of a scholar, but there was not a single one among us who was interested.
It gives me the feeling of listening to a boring lesson at school.
“Oooh! This design was used in underground temples of the heretic 『Bulst Faith』 which perished around 17,000 years ago!” (Arnest)
The patterns carved into the walls and floor had started to disappear due to their very old age, but it seems a specialist like Arnest can still make them out.
Though it’s a story where I ask myself just what’s gained by knowing about it…
“Wendelin-san, what’s so delightful about designs carved into walls and floors?” (Katharina)
“Who knows?” (Wendelin)
I mean, neither Katharina nor I are archaeologists, and thus we don’t have any interest in an underground ruin that has no treasures and is only full of dust and mold.
“If you look closely, it resembles the designs used in reliefs by the church.” (Elise)
“The Bulst Faith being called heretic is because they were defeated in a dispute with the current Catholic church. But then again, seeing that they originate from the same belief, it is only natural for them to have parts that resemble each other.” (Arnest)
“(Even though it’s an incredibly boring topic, ain’t Elise really a saint to go along with it?)” (Erwin)
Certainly, as Erw says, hearing about something like the history of religion, yeah…
Or rather, is it really okay for Elise, a priestess, to listen to stories about the church rising in power by brushing aside other faiths?
I worried that I might get scolded by Cardinal Hohenheim.
“So, what’s so valuable about this underground ruin?” (Luise)
“Ancient ruins that are this old are very rare even in the demon country.” (Arnest)
“But, there are no treasures to be found here, right?” (Luise)
“These designs, which were carved into the walls, ceiling and floor, are precious, cultural legacies.” (Arnest)
In the eyes of Luise, an adventurer, an underground ruin with no treasures has no value, but for Arnest, an archaeologist, there is value in investigating this underground ruin.
The values of both of them are completely biting each other, or rather, everyone besides Arnest had the same opinion as Luise.
“At the time when demons still lived on this continent, there were many people believing in the Bulst Faith. Fearing religious oppression, they left this continent. However, the current demons do not like religion overly much.” (Arnest)
The number of people depending on religion might have decreased, because the demons are leading a modern life nowadays.
As there were many secular people on Earth as well, it’s probably the same in this case.
“I see…I guess the demons don’t believe in god…” (Elise)
Probably there are many among the demons who don’t believe in god.
For Elise this seems to be a sad truth, even if it’s about another faith.
As a matter of fact, I’m also almost completely atheistic, though.
“It is not all of them. The number of people believing in new religions owed to the stress in their daily lives is increasing as well.” (Arnest)
Elise is happy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some shady new religions are mixed in there…
“Wend-sama, nothing here.” (Wilma)
“Yeah, it looks like this underground ruin having been excavated in the era of the Ancient Magic Civilization is true. That’s why there’s nothing here.” (Wendelin)
Ina and Wilma, who continued the exploration since there’s no monster presence to be found here either, returned, but it seems the underground ruin is completely empty.
“If it’s a religious facility, it wouldn’t be strange for at least altars and religious tools to have been left behind.”
“Probably those were already taken out.”
Katharina also had disappointment over this ruin being a miss written all over her face.
“It is a valuable, cultural legacy! It is a precious evidence of an era where humans and demons believed in the same religion and lived together!” (Arnest)
“I see. In that case you can investigate it as much as you want, afterwards.” (Wendelin)
However, while we are not here. I have absolutely no interest in this.
“Wend, let’s move to another underground ruin.”
Seeing as there are no treasures here, this place has no value to us.
We decide to quickly move to another ruin.
Sometimes things like this can happen after all.
“Arnest, we are going to the next place.” (Wendelin)
“Uh huuuuh. If I compare this pattern with the ones so far…” (Arnest)
“Come on, we are heading out.” (Wendelin)
“Earl Baumeister, you are too impatient.” (Arnest)
I dragged Arnest, who was confirming a weathered pattern that’s carved into the floor with intense concentration, along and had him guide us to the next underground ruin.
“Wend, it’s yet another miss.” (Ina)
“Wend-sama, nothing here.” (Wilma)
“This is a normal basement, isn’t it?” (Wendelin)
Ina and Wilma talked to me with voices that lacked any kind of motivation.
As long as time allowed, we had Arnest guide us to places that might be underground ruins.
Although you might call them underground ruins, many were nothing more than very old basements.
Sometimes there will be some winners with treasures, but there will be a lot more misses with nothing of value.
It was only natural that the tension took a nosedive for everyone except Arnest, who was the only one to be in high spirits that we found valuable, cultural legacies, when we drew several misses in a row.
“I really don’t get archaeologists.”
Actually, as one of the conditions for sheltering Arnest, it was decided that we will report locations of other, unexplored underground ruins in the Kingdom to His Majesty.
It’s not clear whether there are treasures to be found in those underground ruins unless you actually excavate them, but that’s still overwhelmingly less effort than searching for unexplored underground ruins from the scratch.
Some time ago I was contacted through the MHCD by a big shot of the academy, which is in charge of the investigation when new, unexplored ruins are safely discovered, because of the information I had reported.
『If we investigate this valuable underground ruin from the time before the Ancient Magic Civilization now that you have found it, the mysteries of our ancestors will…』
Be it humans or demons, it seems that archaeologists are the same everywhere.
Although it’s not like we discovered treasures, the voice over the MHCD seemed very overjoyed.
From our standpoint, understanding what’s so delightful about this is difficult though.
“Although there are differences between races, the romanticism of archeology is the same for both sides.” (Arnest)
Being of the same kind, Arnest was very happy, too.
“I am really looking forward to the detailed report. Reading the reports of others is one of an archaeologist’s guilty pleasures.” (Arnest)
Yep, I truly don’t understand what so exciting about this.
“Leaving that aside, find an underground ruin that will turn into a bit of money.”
Given that we are searching the nearby underground ruins in order, I don’t think that Arnest is deliberately guiding us to underground ruins that have no value.
Because it often happens that a ruin has no treasure after finally finding it, it’s not like we are extremely unlucky, but the Earl Baumeister household is sheltering Arnest while bearing the risks for doing so.
“Find a ruin that will bring us some profit, based on the ruins around here.” (Wendelin)
“Since there are this many candidates, it is only a matter of time.” (Arnest)
A great number of symbols is noted on the old map owned by Arnest, and many of those seem to be unexplored ruins.
“Can’t you narrow it down to an underground ruin that looks like it could have treasures from all these?” (Luise)
“It is possible to go with the specifics of the location, but unless we investigate, we will not know what is buried there.” (Arnest)
Arnest rejected Luise’s unreasonable demand.
“This does not mean that the possibility does not exist, but there are many cases where excavations and investigations take a lot of time and manpower.” (Arnest)
The majority of the plausible, unexplored underground ruins are located in monster domains. Among them there were even some at the bottom of the sea and high in the mountains.
Those are no places where we can somehow manage with just ourselves.
“Earl Baumeister, your support is indispensable. Excavations cost money.” (Arnest)
A large-scaled excavation costs money. A patron is necessary. That’s the reason why Arnest cooperated with Duke Nürnberg.
“It seems like you often and generously handed various excavated items to Duke Nürnberg, but you are saying that there’s nothing for us because Wendelin-san’s support is lacking?” (Katharina)
Even though he provided a large amount of items to the rebel Duke Nürnberg, it’s been only dusty and smelly basements for us so far.
Katharina apparently wondered whether Arnest is taking us lightly.
She lived as solo adventurer in order to restore her household before she met us.
So far people probably underestimated and despised her because she’s a woman.
For this reason she got angry at Arnest’s words and deeds up until now.
She thought that being treated with contempt by the likes of a scholar, even if he’s a demon, would stain the good name of herself and her husband as nobility.
“Milady, that is a misunderstanding. This me has only been guiding you to unexplored underground ruins close to Baulburg.” (Arnest)
As expected of Arnest, seeing Katharina’s attitude, he tried to seriously dispel her misgivings.
“Is that the truth?” (Katharina)
“As for Duke Nürnberg: the underground ruin, where we found the big amount of magic tools and that jamming device, was just by chance located in the Kleim Mountain Range close to the mansion. Until we discovered that one, I investigated several miss underground ruins as I was told to do by Duke Nürnberg.” (Arnest)
Now that he mentions it, this guy was several years in Duke Nürnberg’s care, wasn’t he?
“That Kleim Mountain Range gave the impression that it might be a very huge underground ruin, but hadn’t there been any other people who tried to excavate it before Duke Nürnberg?” (Wendelin)
“I heard from the deceased Duke Nürnberg that a quite distant family head of the Duke Nürnberg household carried out a small-scale excavation. After that he apparently coined the family rule 『Do not investigate the Kleim Mountain Range’s underground! If you do, it will spell the Duke Nürnberg household’s doom!』.” (Arnest)
Well, makes sense with that many weapons. The former Duke Nürnberg, who left behind that family rule, probably prohibited any excavation after this, fearing that his descendants might go on a rampage after obtaining all that weaponry.
“It was impossible for that Duke Nürnberg to obey such a family rule.” (Wilma)
As Wilma says, Duke Nürnberg didn’t follow the rule and ended up destroying the household.
“Prohibitions and rules from the past often have a proper reason to them.” (Elise)
“Be that as it may, milady, if we do not push onwards at such points, neither the humans nor the demons will make any progress.” (Arnest)
Elise highly evaluated the family head of the old Duke Nürnberg household who left behind a will for his descendants to not excavate the big amount of ancient weapons.
However, Arnest believes that although there had been many victims due to the weapons once they were excavated, they also connect to a long-term growth as the technology will advance if these magic tools are researched after being published in the world.
On this point it’s nothing more than a difference in opinion between religionists and scholars.
“Katharina, I’m grateful for you worrying about me, but it’s still the first day of the exploration. Although it’s been only misses so far, discovering this many unexplored underground ruins in one day is unusual. I’m sure an amazing one will appear among them, sooner or later.” (Wendelin)
I explained to Katharina to make her calm down a bit.
“Well, if you say so, Wendelin-san…” (Katharina)
Besides, there’s one more aspect.
There’s no place left for Arnest to go to.
If he escapes to the Empire from here, he will fall under Peter’s rule. Peter likely won’t hesitate to execute Arnest after extracting only the locations of unexplored underground ruins out of him.
If he executes Arnest, explaining to everyone that Arnest was Duke Nürnberg’s accomplice, his approval rating will go up as well.
Even in regards to the Kingdom; the unexplored underground ruins have already been reported.
If he runs away, the Kingdom won’t hesitate to order Arnest’s elimination by several advanced magicians.
That means Arnest won’t survive if he’s not of any benefit to the Earl Baumeister household.
There’s no way that a man as bright as him hasn’t realized that. I think he understands very well that he won’t be able to continue with his beloved underground ruin excavations and investigations if it doesn’t bring any profit to us or if he runs away.
“Having said that, I sure would like information about an underground ruin that might be of benefit to us.” (Ina)
Ina sent a strict look in Arnest direction, telling him with her eyes, “Just so you know, sheltering you isn’t for free.”
Actually because Arnest was told by Roderich, who has worked out how to pay his sheltering, that he’d like to have some kind of results in the early stages, if possible, Arnest accepted Ina’s demand.
“You do have a point in that, milady. Even in the world of excavators, sponsors are important. Well then, this me shall inform you of an underground ruin that ought to be capable of satiating mine desires and Earl Baumeister’s wish for profit.” (Arnest)
Once Arnest said so, he spread out the old map on the ground and started to try specifying a underground ruin that looks like it might contain treasures from among the many recorded underground ruin locations.
“Hmmmm. The traits of underground ruins in the Baumeister Earldom and other areas, including the Empire…has a remarkable difference in cultural style, thus, while also using the traits of the ruins, which had been discovered so far, as reference…” (Arnest)
Arnest examines the old map while mumbling to himself.
“Anyway, I wonder, is such overly convenient underground ruin going to pop up?” (Luise)
“Who knows?” (Wendelin)
“Something like the treasures found in the Demon Forest are the result of Wend’s bad luck after all.” (Ina)
“Ina, isn’t calling it bad luck too cruel?” (Wendelin)
“Be it good or bad, too many things happen around you, Wend.” (Ina)
“I can’t deny that, I fear…” (Wendelin)
“Ina-chan, that’s why the probability for a treasure to appear is high, isn’t it?” (Luise)
Luise probably imagines that we will excavate an underground ruin, finding lots of golden and silver coins and jewels, but such riches don’t show up so readily.
I wonder what Arnest is thinking about that matter?
“If it is this one, Roderich-dono will be pleased, too.” (Arnest)
Arnest stared intently at the old map with its many symbols for a while, but finally he showed us a certain place with an X-mark.
“At the foot of the Greater League Mountain Range?”
That was the location Arnest pointed at. Is there really something like an underground ruin even in such a place?
“Here we will find lots of jewels and coins?” (Luise)
“Milady, it is not that kind of treasure. If a statesman uses it wisely, it is going to have a value going beyond jewels and coins. It is a huge tunnel running through the former Carpchiras Mountain Range, combining the best public works techniques of the Ancient Magic Civilization’s era.” (Arnest)
A tunnel going through those mountains, huh?
Certainly for normal adventurers that’s likely beyond their capacities, but for the Earl Baumeister household it can be called a treasure exceeding money and jewels.
However, Luise had a questioning look, asking 『A tunnel as treasure? In what way?』
“Tunnel? Something like that exists? Carpchiras Mountain Range?”
We didn’t remember having heard the name Carpchiras Mountain Range.
“Carpchiras Mountain Range is how it was called during the Ancient Magic Civilization’s era. Now it is the Greater League Mountain Range. The first excavation project is this huge tunnel.” (Arnest)
According to Arnest’s suggestion, we decided the next task to be the excavation of the tunnel said to run through the Greater League Mountain Range, and its investigation.
“Eh? There’s something like that close to our territory?” (Paul)
“Seems so.” (Wendelin)
“Seems so, he says…” (Paul)
Led by Arnest, who disguised himself to hide his ears, we immediately proceed towards the excavation of that huge tunnel.
The location was the base of the Greater League Mountain Range which is not that far away from Paul-niisan’s territory.
Once we showed up in Paul-niisan’s Associate Baron Baumeister territory, the development of the territory had advanced considerably, and the population had apparently grown as well.
Paul-niisan’s former colleagues from the guard unit were together with him, who came to greet us, after having become his retainers.
“Were there any traces of such a tunnel?” (Wendelin)
“Unfortunately not in my territory. It’s not like we thoroughly investigated it, so we might simply have not discovered them.” (Paul)
Ottmar-san, who had become the Junior Commander of the Associate Baron Baumeister household, and Sieghard, who is Paul-niisan’s sword instructor and captain of the guards, were also present to protect Paul-niisan.
“Even if you say that, it is close-by. If the tunnel can be used, it will be a chance for our Associate Baron Baumeister territory to make rapid progress.” (Rudi)
Rudi-san, who comes from a mercantile household, seems to take care of the financial affairs and also serves as butler.
Since this place is located in the countryside, he didn’t wear a butler attire like Sebastian though.
“Milord, if we can use that tunnel, it will take a bit more time than a magic airship, but it will become possible to move people and goods at a cheap price. Assuming the entrance area is close to us…” (Rudi)
“We will gain profits by running rest and lodging facilities, right?” (Paul)
If they run drive-in-like facilities since they are close to the tunnel, it might yield them a profit.
After listening to the suggestions from Rudi-san, Paul-niisan seems to be expecting quite a bit.
“There is still the problem whether we can really find it and if it’s usable once found. Huh? What about Gotthard-san?” (Wendelin)
“That guy is currently leading the reclamation work.” (Paul)
“That’s an unexpected assignment of personnel.” (Wendelin)
From my impression when I met him previously, he seemed to be the type who’s strong in martial arts. Given that his way of speaking is quite brusque, I felt like he’s not suited to command the fief’s residents.
“Although that guy looks like that, he’s the most intelligent among us.”
Given that he had been born into a Viscount family, he has received a sophisticated education.
His way of talking isn’t broad-minded, but the residents do their work with a good efficiency without being afraid of him for some reason.
“His way to handle people is surprisingly skillful, you know? Going by just what you see, it only looks like he’s lazily giving out the least amount of instructions, though.” (Paul)
“Rather than people who talk about this and that, the things needed to be done are easy to understand. Something like that?” (Wendelin)
“Maybe. Wend, go meet mother and father before that tunnel excavation.” (Paul)
“Also… Amelie-sister-in-law-san, Karl and the others as well…” (Paul)
For just an instant, Paul-niisan looked at Elise and my other wives, before continuing.
As for Amelie, hmm, I guess, I was busy with various matters after returning to my territory, so I didn’t go to meet her yet.
“I also have souvenirs which I bought in the Empire.” (Wendelin)
“Thanks for going out of your way despite all the difficulties after being dragged into the civil war.” (Paul)
Afterwards we headed to the completed mansion while guided by Paul-niisan.
Thinking of the future, it has quite the large construction.
Father was immersed in training my nephews Karl and Oskar the sword in the front garden of the mansion.
I’m seeing them for the first time in roughly a year, but I must say, children grow up quickly.
My two nephews had become considerably taller compared to the last time we met.
“Father, Karl, Oskar.” (Wendelin)
“Wendelin, huh? Great for you to have come visiting.” (Arthur)
“Wendelin-ojisan! Please tell us stories about your time in the Empire!”
“Is it really true that you took very actively part in the war? I want to hear the stories, too.”
No matter how much I gloss it over, for my two nephews I’m no more than their father’s enemy.
Even so, being idolized like this still felt comfortable.
I probably have to thank Amelie for it.
“Karl, Oskar, that has to wait for later. Earl Baumeister-dono is busy.” (Arthur)
It looks like father took my circumstances into consideration.
After he interrupted their chatter, we were immediately guided to the parlor.
If it’s a war, a noble has to fight by swinging their sword.
However, those two are still children.
Children love hearing about stories of wars that took place in far away places.
In Japan there are many people who don’t approve of that, but children consider tanks and fighter planes cool if they are shown on TV. The festivals at JSDF bases are always crowded with parents taking their children along.
After all there are many adults who love stories about wars where they won without incurring any damages to themselves.
As long as they don’t see the mountains of corpses, most people behave like that.
“Karl, Oskar, I’m sorry. I bought souvenirs in the Empire, but the stories have to wait for next time, okay?” (Wendelin)
“”Thank you very much.”” (Karl & Oskar)
After I pass them their presents, father sends them out of the room.
And, at almost the same time Amelie entered while carrying a tea set.
“It’s been a while Earl Baumeister-sama.” (Amelie)
“Long time no see, Amelie-san1 .” (Wendelin)
It’s a barefaced greeting, but it’s really true that it’s been a while.
It’s for the first time in a year, but it looks like she hasn’t changed much.
“Elise-sama, Katharina-sama, Ina-sama, Luise-sama, Wilma-sama, it must have been difficult in the Empire, right?” (Amelie)
Amelie chats them up casually while placing tea in front of Elise.
“It was hard, but it’s the duty of a wife to share the hardships together with her husband.” (Elise)
“I think that it also deepens the bonds with your husband.” (Ina)
“There might be that as well.”
“I will follow Wend-sama anywhere, so no problem.” (Wilma)
“Thanks to that we are happily acting together like this even after coming back.” (Katharina)
With Elise’s statement at the beginning, Ina and the others also reply to Amelie while smiling.
“It’s very enviable for you to be on such good terms.” (Amelie)
Due to Amelie likewise answering with a smile, my stomach starts to hurt.
In the eyes of Elise and the others, Amelie is an eyesore who still continues her relationship with me.
But they don’t show those emotions. Probably they are thinking that it would be their loss if they did.
Amelie has skillfully warded them off, too. I think women are really strong-minded.
Only I’m on tenterhooks.
No, I guess it’s different.
Every member of the male group was on tenterhooks.
“Oh, those tea cakes are delicious.” (Erwin)
“Replenishing a moderate amount of sugar before an excavation is indispensable.” (Arnest)
Knowing of the circumstances, Erw immerses himself in wolfing down the sweets that had been served since he doesn’t want to get dragged into the cat fight.
Even Arnest, who has no interest in anything besides the tunnel which we are going to excavate from now on, ignored me and drank mate tea while eating tea cakes.
“Uhum! Come to think of it, is there some kind of job today?” (Arthur)
As he probably feels uneasy as well, Father, who’s the principal offender as he hitched me and Amelie together, changes the topic while looking at Paul-niisan.
“They say it’s the excavation of an old tunnel.” (Paul)
Paul-niisan explained to father and the others the main reason why we came to this place today.
“A tunnel from long ago, huh? I’m an amateur, so I don’t really know, but is such an ancient tunnel something that stays around without collapsing?” (Arthur)
As a matter of fact, I felt doubtful about that, too.
After all, it’s a tunnel from roughly 10,000 years ago.
“Even if it’s still around, a tunnel, where you don’t know when it might collapse, is of no use to anyone, is it?” (Arthur)
Everyone showed consenting expressions on their faces upon father’s comment.
“How about it, Arnest?” (Wendelin)
“Wendelin, he is?” (Arthur)
“An archaeologist I got to know in the Empire. From now on we will work on excavation in the Baumeister Earldom, and he will be the one in charge of that.” (Wendelin)
“I see. I hear it’s lucrative if you draw a winner from among the underground ruins.” (Arthur)
If there’s something so wonderful within a territory, it’s only natural for the lord to excavate it.
Father seemed to harbor that kind of impression.
As Arnest’s disguise is perfect, he most definitely doesn’t suspect him to be a demon.
“A normal tunnel would have definitely collapsed, but the tunnel we are going to search for from now on is special.” (Arnest)
Arnest shows something like an old leaflet to us.
“It’s old paper, isn’t it? A leaflet?” (Wendelin)
“To be precise, it is the government’s public information during the era of the Ancient Magic Civilization.” (Arnest)
For an old paper that’s said to be older than 10,000 years to still be around is amazing.
I wonder, was it left in the demon country?
“According to this, 『A huge tunnel making it possible to cheaply send a large amount of people and goods through the Carpchiras Mountain Range』. Earl Ischrubak, who was not only renown for the most famous magic tools in the era of the Ancient Magic Civilization but also in other fields, and Republic Akitsushima, which existed in the current Baumeister Earldom and possessed technological strength that was not inferior to the central nation during that era; given that it is a tunnel dug and sponsored with money as well as technology by those two, it will not collapse in a mere 10,000 years. The entrance has been buried, so searching for it will be difficult.” (Arnest)
“Earl Ischrubak, that was the owner of that underground ruin which made us terribly suffer during our adventurer debut fight, wasn’t he?” (Erwin)
“That amusement park’s…” (Erwin)
Naturally Erw remembered it.
Even though that underground ruin was a facility from at least 10,000 years ago, it hadn’t deteriorated at all.
Even the amusement park, which is still floating in another dimension, is the same. The 『Preservation』 magic, which had been used, was excellent after all.
If that magic had been used for the tunnel as well, it’s very likely that the tunnel can be used right away as soon as we clear away the earth and sand once we find it.
“Of course, this me, who provided the information, will be the first to investigate it.” (Arnest)
“Don’t worry, I know that.” (Wendelin)
It’s no wonder that Arnest, who doesn’t forget to give a reminder even at times like this, could join up with Duke Nürnberg…I wonder whether it’s fine to consider it like that?
However, one thing I can say is 『You do have some nerve』.
“As I don’t know whether we will find it in a day, can you please let us stay here?” (Wendelin)
“That’s okay with me, but you won’t find such a huge tunnel in a day?” (Arthur)
“Sir father, the rough location has been recorded on a map from the Ancient Magic Civilization’s era, but it is also a fact that 10,000 years have passed since then. It is very possible that the location has largely deviated from my assumption due to the changes in the terrain and such.” (Arnest)
“That sure sounds troublesome.” (Arthur)
After obtaining the permission from father to stay here for a while, we depart to the actual site.
“These accelerator, break, gear…hand brake; what are they for?” (Erwin)
It’s a slight distance away and I can’t use 『Teleportation』 since it’s a place I haven’t visited yet, thus I decided to head to the actual site, using one of the magic four-wheels we excavated before.
As it was a car that runs with mana and not fuel, Erw does a test drive while looking at the manual.
Driver’s licenses or such bullshit don’t exist in this world. This area is a grassland with no one in sight anyway.
It doesn’t matter even if he learns driving by making it move all of a sudden.
Fortunately, or should I say it’s because Erw has good reflexes; he was able to drive skillfully in no time.
I also possessed a driver’s license in my previous life. I was a paper driver as I had a bit of a blank period where I didn’t drive a car, but I should be able to drive normally if I practice a bit.
Unexpectedly it’s something the body remembers.
If I don’t practice a little bit more, I don’t believe that I will be allowed to drive on a Japanese street, though.
“I want to learn it, too.” (Luise)
“Let’s practice in order.”
“The people from the past sure created some handy things.”
If you want to call it handy, then it might be, but since it’s a kind of car its user-friendliness actually becomes unexpectedly bad if the roads aren’t maintained properly.
With the apparent premise that they would be used on bad roads, the vehicles that were discovered in the Demon Forest’s underground ruin are mostly those resembling jeeps and large trucks.
If that wasn’t the case, it might have been impossible for them to be usable on bad roads or roads that are close to it.
“Wend, it’s handy, but I kinda feel sick…” (Luise)
Since the base of the Greater League Mountain Range is mostly untouched no-man’s-land, the magic four-wheeler shakes terribly if you make it drive across that terrain.
Since it looks like even Luise feels bad due to motion sickness, it goes without saying that it applies for the others as well.
“The passage of 10,000 years is really cruel. A place that achieved a development competing for the first or second rank on the continent turned into wild nature.” (Arnest)
As Arnest wasn’t afflicted by car sickness, he worked hard at drawing up a report by himself.
“Arnest-san, you haven’t gotten sick at all, have you…?” (Katharina)
Suffering the most of car sickness, Katharina was surprised at Arnest being completely fine.
“In my childhood I had terrible motion sickness. Nowadays I am alright with it.” (Arnest)
Arnest doesn’t talk overly much about his home, but occasionally he drops some fragments of information.
In the demon country magic four-wheelers have apparently become popular as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.
“What do those who get sick do?”
“They take anti-motion-sickness medicine. Do you need one?” (Arnest)
“It would have been great if you had handed it out in advance…” (Katharina)
Arnest passes the medicine around to everyone. Once they swallowed it, all of them were promptly released from their motion sickness.
We also pass the medicine to the members that have boarded the other four-wheeler, the one driven by Erw.
At any rate, it’s quite the effective medicine, isn’t it?
The demon country seems to fairly advanced in medical technology, too.
“Wendelin-san, it looks like you haven’t gotten sick either.” (Katharina)
“I guess it’s because I’m driving?” (Wendelin)
I remember that I had awful motion sickness in my childhood during my previous life.
And yet it’s strange because it vanished when I got my driver’s license and started to drive a car myself.
“We have arrived.” (Arnest)
We have arrived at our planned destination in around 20 minutes, but the local terrain was nothing more than a mountain slope.
It’s impossible to imagine that a tunnel from the Ancient Magic Civilization’s era is supposed to sleep below this area that’s densely overgrown with many trees.
Given that 10,000 years have elapsed, it’s probably been completely buried below the mountain.
“I know that it should be roughly around this area, but please do not ask me where exactly.” (Arnest)
“Is there no other option but to dig up the entire area…?”
Just being able to specify the location to some extent makes it already better than for other adventurers and archaeologists.
While thinking that, I begin working.
However, it’s not like all will be fine by recklessly blowing away sand and earth with magic.
First I cut down the large amount of trees crowding the slope with 『Wind Cutter』 and collected them into my magic bag.
“I guess they will serve as firewood and lumber…” (Wendelin)
Next I shaved off the rocks, earth and sand, and stored it away as well.
“Wendelin-san, are you not going to get rid of a greater amount at once?” (Katharina)
“No, if I do that, it might damage the tunnel below.” (Wendelin)
Among my friends at university there was one guy who majored in archeology. He said that one must proceed carefully when using heavy machinery during excavations.
If you dig out a large amount all at once, considering it bothersome to go slowly, it could turn out badly with rare remains and artifacts getting broken, causing the archaeologists to clamor about their precious materials being lost.
Still, we might be better off as we are not carefully scraping off the soil with a wooden spatula.
“How boring.” (Erwin)
“It’s not boring for you and the others, now is it?” (Wendelin)
Katharina, Arnest and I search for the tunnel. Erw and the others entertained the flying dragons and wyverns that occasionally turned up here.
The Greater League Mountain Range is a place that should also be called a quasi-monster domain. That’s why wyverns will show up, thinking that prey has come, if humans kick up a fuss in their territory.
Compared to other monster domains, the distribution of monsters is irregular, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a monster domain either.
I should probably prepare a method for traveling other than across dangerous mountain roads or via magic airships with their expensive shipping fees, even if that’s a safe method.
“The tunnel is finished. Thus, if the Earl Baumeister household maintains it, it will be profitable.” (Wilma)
It’s as Wilma says.
People don’t move readily if there’s no profit to be gained.
“And, this me will be acknowledged, allowing me to increasingly focus on excavation.” (Arnest)
Because the tunnel is convenient for me and will enable me to profit from it, and because Arnest wants me to acknowledge further excavations, we are eagerly working here like this.
“Dear, you’re also collecting the dug-out earth?” (Elise)
“If it’s Roderich, he will likely find some way to make use of it.” (Wendelin)
I remembered him talking about there being places he wants fill up before.
If I take it there and use the soil to fill up those places, no useless sand and earth will remain here either.
If we pile it up at some bad spot, I would feel anxious that it might turn into a landslide due to becoming slushy from rain.
“Hhmmm. This place is a miss as well.” (Arnest)
We tried to dig quite the range until evening, but we didn’t find the all-important tunnel.
After deciding to do the rest tomorrow, we leap to the Associate Baron Baumeister territory with 『Teleportation』.
The reason why we didn’t use the four-wheelers was because everyone would have doubtlessly become sick due to the bad roads.
Since I have come to the actual place once now, it’s no problem as we will be able to instantly teleport on-site starting from tomorrow.
Even though they are valuable, convenient vehicles, I know of the risk of them being hated because the infrastructure has to be improved first. Cars feel very sickening if the roads are bad.
As for other issues, there’s also the problem of countermeasures against theft.
I think normally they would be stolen with a magic bag if we left them on-site.
“Looks like it’s quite difficult to find that tunnel, doesn’t it?”
“The range of the location labeled as roughly being the right place is extensive after all…”
We return to the Associate Baron Baumeister territory and take dinner together with father and the others.
As expected, the menus has improved substantially, turning into something that’s no inferior to that of other noble families.
I continue to talk about today’s excavation work with father.
“I guess it’s because the tunnel is also buried on top of the forests and mountains above it now that 10,000 years have elapsed.” (Artur)
“If it hadn’t been buried to such an extent, someone would have likely discovered it in the past…” (Wendelin)
“If you manage to make it usable after finding it, I suppose many visitors will arrive in this territory. It’s something that would have been unimaginable in my youth.” (Artur)
I can’t imagine it either.
Father was absorbed in maintaining the small Knight Baumeister territory.
He was probably desperate to accomplish that much.
“The current me is really no more than a retired geezer who is supporting Paul who went independent as new feudal lord. I think helping is the most I can do. Come to think of it, what about Klaus?” (Arthur)
“He’s behaving obediently…” (Wendelin)
I hired Klaus temporarily after he started a rebellion, but in the time when we had been in the Empire he had received assorted jobs from Roderich, and was apparently focused on only carrying out those.
Since he received a large reward in the disturbance with the Margrave Browig household, that must have been sufficient for him.
“It seems Roderich is somewhat keeping an eye on him, but…” (Wendelin)
For a person of Roderich’s level, Klaus, who has perpetrated terrible deeds in the past, likely is a person requiring high precaution.
Him assigning assorted jobs to Klaus also serves as way to monitor him.
“I think there’s no need to worry too much, though.” (Arthur)
“Klaus and I were unable to cooperate, but recently I have become capable of understanding his viewpoint.” (Arthur)
According to father Klaus seems to have already fulfilled his ambitions.
“Including the Knight Baumeister territory, the development of the Savage Lands is advancing, and exchange with the outside has started as well. This was his ambition. Being able to calmly think of eliminating me and Kurt as no issue for the sake of this aspiration, that’s Klaus.” (Arthur)
“So you’re saying that he has already achieved his objective?” (Wendelin)
“That man wasn’t picky with his methods, but now that he’s achieved them, that’s the end of it. He’s more intelligent than many others. He’s at an advanced age, too, so he should stay obedient from now on.” (Arthur)
Father’s face turned bitter for an instant.
I suppose that intelligence of Klaus is a part that he doesn’t like.
He ended up losing his own son, but the lives of Klaus’ grandchildren has improved after becoming governors of new villages.
Maybe father is jealous of his difference in ability with Klaus.
Klaus was able to save his grandchildren, same can’t be said about father, who couldn’t save his son.
“Either way, that’s all in the past now. Klaus and I will grow old and die. However, a tunnel, eh? According to the map it’s very probable that it’s connected to the Breithilde Margraviate, but I wish it will be helpful for this territory to prosper successfully. Personally, it will likely increase my pocket money, too.” (Arthur)
Finishing dinner while holding such a conversation, I go to enjoy the evening’s cool in the mansion’s back yard.
Outside Erw trained swordsmanship with Karl and Oscar.
“Erw, how it’s going?” (Wendelin)
I try asking Erw about my nephews’ swordsmanship talent.
“They are actually more talented than you and Erich-san, Wend.” (Erwin)
“Hmmm. I don’t quite know if the comparison targets are way too bad to make a judgment.” (Wendelin)
There’s no need to talk about my talent in swordsmanship.
And, the one who exceeds me in being terrible at it is Erich-niisan.
“If they do their best, I think they will be able to reach the third or fourth round in the Martial Arts Tournament.” (Erwin)
“That gives me a peace of mind then. I guess their mother’s blood is strong in them, huh?”
“I don’t think that their blood matters. Even my father was defeated in the second round of the tournament in his youth.” (Amelie)
Before I realized it, Amelie stood next to me.
Originally I wanted to talk with her much earlier, but previously Elise and the others were present as well as other onlookers.
In front of us Erw is practicing with my nephews, but right now there’s no one else nearby.
I guess this means we can have a private chat.
Elise and my other wives might be considerate of us.
“Arthur-sama practices swordsmanship with them if he has time.” (Amelie)
Father has no talent in swordsmanship either, but if it’s at the level of teaching them the basics, he should be able to accomplish that.
“Johanna-sama and I teach them writing and calculation, too. Artur-sama also reached the point where he’s capable of calculating with almost no discomfort.” (Amelie)
While helping with the Associate Baron Baumeister territory which is still in the middle of expansion, despite having retired, he’s training archery and swordsmanship with my nephews.
Himself studying albeit being busy to all outward appearances might be owed to him feeling something akin to his own incompetence due to the matter with Kurt.
“I see.” (Wendelin)
However, I don’t voice out my deduction.
It would be rude towards father.
“But that period will also come to an end in a little while.” (Amelie)
“Come to an end?” (Wendelin)
“Yes. Karl and Oskar will be left in the care of my parent’s home.” (Amelie)
After he becomes an adult, Karl will be given a Knight peerage and assigned a territory in the Baumeister Earldom.
It’s planned that Oskar will become the Junior Commander of that newly organized Knight territory to support his elder brother, but it was decided that they will be entrusted to the Meinbach family, Amelie’s home, until then.
“Isn’t that a bit too early?” (Wendelin)
Leaving children, who haven’t even turned ten years old yet, with another family feels premature to me.
“Oh my, didn’t you depart to the Savage Lands by yourself when you were much younger, Wend-kun?” (Amelie)
“Even so, I returned home every day.” (Wendelin)
“Occasionally you didn’t come back either though, right?” (Amelie)
“Yes, there were also days when I camped outside.” (Wendelin)
Finally Amelie’s tone changed now that it was just the two of us.
I guess she realized that Erw doesn’t hear what we are talking about as he’s too engrossed in the training.
“It’s slightly early, but my father said that it’s unconditional.” (Amelie)
The new Knight household will succeed the the Meinbach family name.
While it will likewise be a Knight household, it will be set up as something similar to real branch family. That household will also be blood-related to the Earl Baumeister household.
They seem to harbor a sense of impending danger that it must not end in failure, no matter what happens.
“He says, it’s because they are getting spoiled by their family…father might have a plan too, but…” (Amelie)
The majority of the retainers and residents will be provided by the Knight Meinbach household.
Because they are second sons and below, they should normally be in an unfortunate position, but they will be able to secure a new place where they belong thanks to that completely unexpected opportunity.
“Sounds quite serious.” (Wendelin)
I end up thinking that Karl is still quite young, but I guess this is about when he becomes a feudal lord.
I felt doubt towards the way father and Kurt handled things during my childhood, but seen from the standpoint of those concerned, it was probably the result of them desperately keep things going.
“Are you going to accompany them, Amelie-san?” (Wendelin)
“No. Because I’m the most likely candidate to pamper them as their mother…” (Amelie)
“But you know…” (Wendelin)
I have a problem with that as it’s too strict.
After all there are occasionally nobles who end up getting broken by that.
I know that very well as I encountered a weird noble in the royal capital before.
“Father has considered that as well and said that he doesn’t mind me visiting them once a month. But…” (Amelie)
Traveling once a month to the Knight Meinbach territory that’s located on the other side of the Greater League Mountain Range will be difficult.
A small magic airship is departing once a week from close to the Knight Baumeister household to Breitburg, but if you further travel to the Meinbach territory from there with a carriage, it turns into an issue of money and time.
No matter how much of a small surplus she might have, using close to 200,000 cents per year as traveling expenses to go meet her own children is hard for Amelie.
After all she’s holding a position of being a freeloader in Paul-niisan’s home.
“I think that it’s shameful, but father’s expectation is for me to simply depend on you, Wend-kun…” (Amelie)
In other words, Lord Meinbach planned for Amelie to not stay here but at my side?
If it’s me, I can easily drop her off with magic at the times when she’s going to meet her children and then pick her up later on.
Lord Meinbach has noticed the relationship between me and his daughter, and is planing to use that for his own agenda.
Rather than having her forcibly return home and search for a new marriage partner, it’s more lucrative for him to leave her at my side, even if it’s in an unofficial position.
It’s a thinking that’s remarkably aristocratic, but the existence of the Knight Meinbach territory’s retainers and residents are heavily weighing down on his shoulders.
That means he will move for the sake of his household, for the sake of his fief’s population, even if he has to make use of his own daughter.
“I guess he’s more noble-like than my father…” (Wendelin)
“Most recently he’s especially worried…” (Amelie)
As the Knight Meinbach territory is small, there’s not much left to reclaim anymore.
There’s a limit in the population it can maintain. They have to send away the excess in people elsewhere.
“The are enthusiastically leaving while saying 『I will make a name for myself in the capital!』, but more than half of them stop staying in touch. It would be great if they were able to make a living there, even if it’s in the slums, but…” (Amelie)
She’s saying that there might be many who have already died.
Amelie says that there were many times where she saw her father worrying, wondering whether he couldn’t do anything about it, before her becoming a bride.
“That’s why he says that they must not allow this to fail.” (Amelie)
He’s going to give Karl and Oskar further education, and make them early on meet with the retainer and village chief candidates as well as the residents, who will follow them, to make sure that they will carry out the management and development of the new territory very efficiently.
For him to be able to send out the excess-residents in the Knight Meinbach territory, the development of the new Knight Meinbach territory has to succeed.
At the same time he’s saying that she has to stay with me a lot more so that things don’t come to nothing due me changing my mind.
I guess he’s capable of offering his daughter to me without any scruples for that sake.
“Sure, it’s fine. You can come to my place.” (Wendelin)
“Wend-kun, you do have authority, so it would be fine even if you highhandedly refused, you know?” (Amelie)
“It’s not that I haven’t thought of that either, but…” (Wendelin)
While being toyed with by the rebel army and the liberation army during the Empire’s civil war, I saw many nobles becoming desperate to preserve their own territories.
Of course they were also scared of losing their peerage and territory, but at the same time they were very frantic exactly because they were responsible for the lives of their fief’s population.
Since I have seen such things, I felt that it would be wrong to refuse her.
“Wherever one goes, it’s always difficult, isn’t it?” (Amelie)
It’s because those things become fetters twining around myself. Because of that I feel like I want to decide whom I love like a feudal lord.” (Wendelin)
“Amelie-san, you staying at my side is convenient for me.” (Wendelin)
“You have really changed, haven’t you? To keep such an old lady at your side…” (Amelie)
“Isn’t that fine? After all I’m the one who decided for it to be so.” (Wendelin)
“It shall be as you ordered, Earl Baumeister-sama. But, is that alright?” (Amelie)
“Hahaha, I’m Earl Baumeister-sama after all.” (Wendelin)
I acted confident if front of Amelie like that, but within less than one hour I ended up doing a beautiful dogeza in front of Elise and the others inside the room that had been assigned to us as lodging.
Well, I guess that’s the extent of my authority.
“With the circumstances as mentioned just now…” (Wendelin)
Without mentioning my private feeling that I will be happy if Amelie stays at my side with a single word, I carefully and thoroughly explained that I have to accept her as there are various aristocratic circumstances, and that it’s also for the sake of my cute nephews.
Elise and the others listened to my words silently.
Since they aren’t saying anything, I feel slightly scared.
“There’s no particular reason for me to be against it.” (Elise)
“Me neither.” (Ina)
“I suppose there’s none for me, too.” (Luise)
“Wend-sama, you should do as you like.” (Wilma)
“That’s right. We don’t have any reason to interfere either.” (Katharina)
I raise a voice full of delight due to the truly unexpected acceptance.
“You might as well say that it feels like it finally happens now after such a long time.”
“Indeed. But, since it’s unofficial, it would be best for it to be limited to where we can see it.” (Ina)
“After all Roderich-san would get troubled before long if 『Earl Baumeister-sama』 slipped out deep in the night to have a tryst with his unofficial mistress.”
“There’s also the issue of security. It will be troublesome, if something happens to you, Wend-sama. If it’s here, the area is as good as uninhabited, and thus the deployment of assassins is poses no problem.” (Wilma)
“In short, in our eyes things improved with this situation.”
“If I can have you interpret it like that…” (Wendelin)
It was quite the harsh analysis of the circumstances, but I will consider it as something good since they gave me their consent.
It was the effect of doing a dogeza while doing my best.
“Besides, as for Amelie-san, I can consider it as 『I guess it’s inevitable』.”
“Yes. On an emotional level it’s problematic, but this is an important matter. After all she’s going to live together with us in the mansion from now on.”
You can’t live together with people who you dislike.
There are many noble wives who are in such relationships. Once things turn out like this, the atmosphere in a mansion becomes strained and worsens.
It might be a clear solution characteristic to Elise who’s a genuine noble lady.
“Wend, since the relationship with your stepmother is lacking at some parts, I think Amelie-san might take care of those parts.” (Ina)
“Ina-chan, something like that is usually called 『onee-san attribute 2』. (Luise)
They have analyzed me in various ways, but 『onee-san attribute』…I wonder where Luise picked up this one.
“But, in that case the same applies for Therese?”
“No. Leaving aside the current Therese, the Therese back when we were in the Empire was no good.” (Wilma)
“On top of being troublesome, she irritatingly came on Wendelin-san with a suggestive approach.” (Katharina)
The past Therese was harshly criticized by Wilma and Katharina.
Though I have no doubt that Elise, Ina and Luise should think the same.
“However, back when we were in the Empire, eh? What about now?”
“Now she’s docile. Nonpoisonous.” (Wilma)
“Now that you mention it, I don’t feel so bad about her anymore.”
The current Therese bought a small mansion in the neighborhood and lived there peacefully.
For caution’s sake we have deployed some guards, but as there are no visitors from outside, I guess her entertainment is limited to me occasionally visiting for a chat while bringing souvenirs.
“It’s probably because Therese also had her social position. The situation in Amelie-san’s case isn’t that complicated.” (Elise)
To me it feels complicated, but if Elise is able to say that, I suppose it means that it’s not such a complicated matter.
As expected, noble society is troublesome in various ways.
“I think she won’t mind being treated as Head Maid who takes care of household affairs. There are many other nobles who keep their mistress in such a way.”
Officially they will have the social status of managing the maids, but in reality they are the noble’s mistress. There are many such women.
Given that the social status of the those women’s children and their eventually newly born children lies in the power of the noble, who’s also the family head, other people can’t meddle overly much.
“We have heard the story about Amelie-san from you, dear, and tomorrow there’s also the excavation job, so let’s go sleep early?” (Elise)
As might expected, I decide to go sleep early in preparation for tomorrow without going to the usual tryst cabin today.
If I were to be too careless at such a time, I will surely get severely scolded by Elise and the others.
“I will do my very best at excavating today as well!” (Arnest)
The next morning we leap to yesterday’s spot with 『Teleportation』 and resume the excavation.
As usual Arnest was full of energy, but Erw rubbed his eyes while looking sleepy.
“Did you get tired from practicing with Oskar and Karl?” (Wendelin)
“No. Do you remember who’s in the same room as me, Wend?” (Erwin)
Being responsible for watching him just in case, Erw shared a room with Arnest.
“He continuously wrote and researched something until deep into the night. As it bothered me, I couldn’t sleep…” (Erwin)
“Erwin, you are saying something strange there. I just calculated the tunnel’s estimated spot in preparation for today.” (Arnest)
A map of this area, which had that noted down, was grasped in Arnest’s hand.
“Steady analytical study will give birth to huge results in the future.” (Arnest)
“That might be true, but…” (Erwin)
“Let me sleep normally,” Erw seems unhappy.
Arnest, who has an oddly high tension all by himself, continues to dig at the estimated spot with magic.
In the middle of it flying dragons and wyverns show up sporadically, but all of them were turned into raw materials by Ina’s spear throwing, Wilma’s sniping, and Luise’s and Erw’s attacks.
“It would have been really great if Doushi had been here too.”
“Also Burkhart-san, I guess.”
“Those two are busy right now.”
The two had the task to head all over the Kingdom and explain the events in the Empire’s civil war.
Rather than explanation, it might be more correct to call it a lecturer-like job.
Because it’s a world that has a lot less entertainment than Earth, there are many people who look forward to such stories.
Since I’m busy as landed nobility, the two got the short end of the stick as that doesn’t apply to them.
Especially Burkhart-san has been asked to do so by Margrave Breithilde and thus he’s heading all over the country.
If Burkhart-san’s fame rises, it will lead to peace for Margrave Breithilde who employs him.
For a moment there was a plan to have Burkhart-san succeed a peerage, but he himself turned that down.
『What’s so sad about it? I have no need for hardships similar to yours, Earl-sama.』 (Burkhart)
Even if he, who has already passed an age of 50, became a noble, it’s very unlikely that he would be able to stabilize his own territory until his death.
Since there’s also the possibility that it could collapse in the generation of his children, I guess his true opinion is to not do the unreasonable?
“I’ve gotten pretty tired of this.” (Katharina)
Having changed wind magic into the shape of something like a drill, we’re shaving off the mountain’s slope.
As archaeologist Arnest was good at that spell to begin with, but since it’s not such a complicated spell either, the three of us are earnestly digging up the mountain’s slope.
Leaving aside Arnest, who isn’t bothered by such kind of work, Katharina had apparently reached her limit.
“Katharina-dono, excavation is a chain of plain jobs. However, you will not be able to forget the deeply emotional moment when you manage to excavate something.” (Arnest)
“Simple tableware from the past or rusted swords, you mean?” (Katharina)
“How did the ancient people use those tools? Just thinking about that is already fun.” (Arnest)
“It’s a hobby that really doesn’t suit me…” (Katharina)
During my previous life, there was a classmate in the same university who excavated a historic ruin as practice during his summer vacations to obtain the qualifications of a curator.
He seemed to be happy as he enjoyed such things, but as far as I have heard him talking about it, to me at least it didn’t feel all that enjoyable.
It can’t be helped since this is a difference in personal taste.
“That is regrettable! Ooh! Finally it appeared!” (Arnest)
At a place that was whittled down, just one part of an artificial object, which resembled the framework of a tunnel, emerged and shone in the sun.
At last the ancient tunnel, which has been buried for 10,000 years, showed up.
“However, you never know in the middle of mountains like these, right?”
“In these 10,000 years, sand and earth that collapsed down gathered and turned into a mountain. Then trees grew on top of that. Nature is truly fearsome!” (Arnest)
It’s not 『The Foolish Old Man Removes the Mountains』, but since it won’t emerge if you don’t work at it with the intention to tear down a mountain, albeit a small one, I guess it’s only natural that it hasn’t been discovered so far.
“Let’s move all the earth and sand in front of the entrance away.” (Wendelin)
“Katharina, you’re suddenly fully motivated, aren’t you?” (Wendelin)
“I mean, if something appears, you will be curious about its contents.” (Katharina)
Certainly, that might be true as well.
I psyched up myself as well, and then the three of us stored all the earth, trees and sand, which buried the tunnel, into my magic bag.
“Just what absurd amount fits in that thing…” (Katharina)
It’s probably because I frequently used magic during the Empire’s civil war.
My mana has grown to an extent that’s obvious at a glance.
“You possess an amount of mana that is not very common even among demons.” (Arnest)
“Having said that, I can’t best you though, Arnest.” (Wendelin)
“This me played hooky during magic training, but even so I was one of the top five mana possessors in the demon country.” (Arnest)
“Then it’s really good that you were able to leave the country.”
If you are the owner of so much mana, I don’t think that the country will let you go, though.
“That is why I smuggled myself out of the country.” (Arnest)
He has ignored even his country’s rules for the sake of excavating underground ruins.
In a certain sense, Arnest is a genuine scholar, I guess.
“I will enter at once.” (Arnest)
The debris at the entrance had been completely removed.
All that’s left is to enter the tunnel.
“There are no monsters or something like that in there, right?” (Erwin)
“There is no reason for that to be the case.” (Arnest)
Erw’s worry is completely denied by Arnest.
We enter inside while staying on guard just in case, but inside it’s dark and one can’t see properly.
At once I secure illumination by casting 『Light』.
Erw and Wilma turned on the light in the spare lamps for caution’s sake.
“Considering it’s been in use 10,000 years ago, it’s rather clean, isn’t it?”
“That is what I told you. This was a big, national project. Have a look.” (Arnest)
Arnest tells me to touch the tunnel’s wall, but I recognized its appearance and sensation.
It’s made out of concrete.
“Mortar from the past?” (Wendelin)
If I were to mention concrete, Arnest with his good perception might suspect something.
I deliberately use the word mortar.
“It is something close to it. This is called concrete. Furthermore, this is a kind of 『Special Concrete』 that was used for facilities that had to be very sturdy.” (Arnest)
“Special means that something has been mixed into that concrete or whatever it’s called?” (Wendelin)
“Earl Baumeister, you are an excellent student. Ah, you succeeded in compounding the Extreme Limit Steel. It is the same here.” (Arnest)
In addition to very small doses of orichalcum and mithril, ten kinds of rare earth elements had been mixed into normal concrete. By doing that, they completed a tunnel that didn’t break down even after 10,000 years have passed.
“To begin with, Earl Ischrubak had to do with the construction of this. His 『Ultra-Preservation』 magic working is yet another reason why it still stands as is. In addition, reinforcements made out of Extreme Limit Steel should have been added to the concrete, too.” (Arnest)
I see. Given that this tunnel is made out special concrete that is reinforced with Extreme Limit Steel bars, it seems to be terribly sturdy.
“In that case it can be used right away?”
“It should be alright to do so. If possible, I would like to investigate it for around a month.” (Arnest)
“I don’t mind that.” (Wendelin)
Even if it might be usable right away, there’s no way that we can suddenly open a tunnel.
Making the necessary arrangements with the Kingdom, providing illumination as the tunnel’s dark, doing a safety check of the entire tunnel, setting up stations to check the tunnel users at the territories on both ends of the tunnel, establishing a guard system, and securing personnel.
And, since it would be meaningless if we don’t get the noble on the other exit’s side to prepare, we also have to consider the other party’s convenience, too.
If we suddenly announce 『We have opened a tunnel, so please feel free to use it』, it would result in the tunnel being overrun by illegal immigration of smugglers and criminals.
This is a job for the administration and civil officials who were often criticized in my previous life, but with so much stuff to do, it will take time.
“I guess we will first proceed as far as we can…” (Wendelin)
“However, it’s truly a broad tunnel.”
“Five road lanes per side are mentioned in the governments public information.” (Arnest)
Once I shone the 『Light』 towards the ground, white lines, which I was familiar with from Japan, were drawn there.
In total it’s 10 traffic lanes with a width where even large trucks fit easily. In addition they even reserved emergency lanes for broken cars on both sides.
“(It looks like a freeway on Earth…)” (Wendelin)
Since it’s something that was built by that Earl Ischrubak and the ancestors of the Mizuho people, I guess it’s no wonder if they did it full of motivation.
“By the way, it appears that there is also illumination.” (Arnest)
Magic lights were installed on the ceiling in regular intervals.
“Inside those there are probably magic stones, which provide mana.” (Arnest)
Additionally ventilation holes to exchange the air inside the tunnel were set up in fixed intervals, too.
“The magic stones to make those move should be installed somewhere,” Arnest deduces.
I had already taken out the MHCD and was giving Roderich a report.
『I will send guards over right away.』 (Roderich)
Hearing of the available, huge tunnel, the voice of Roderich through the MHCD was full of joy.
“I leave it to you. We will investigate the tunnel as far as possible in the meantime.” (Wendelin)
“Investigate you say, are we going to walk?”
“No, for such times we do have the four-wheelers, don’t we?” (Wendelin)
Riding separately on two magic four-wheelers, we proceed deeper into the tunnel.
Since it’s a perfectly paved road this time, no one became motion sick.
“How pleaaaasant───!” (Erwin)
Erw held out his head through the window while driving and frolicked around by himself.
“Operating the four-wheeler is simpler than I thought.” (Luise)
In exchange for me, Luise grabs the wheel of the second car and soon becomes capable of driving it skillfully as she has good reflexes to begin with, following after Erw at the same speed.
“Huh? There’s something ahead, isn’t there?”
After driving through the tunnel for a while, I confirm ten-odd cars and trucks having been abandoned on the emergency lane.
Once we got off and checked their state, the doors were opened and the keys were still stuck at the driver’s seats.
“Arnest, this is?” (Wendelin)
Arnest searches his own magic bag and retrieves a bundle of several hundred documents.
While swiftly turning them over and reading them, he discovered a certain entry and began to explain.
“They followed the urgent evacuation instructions for times of disasters.” (Arnest)
“Urgent evacuation instructions for times of disasters?” (Wendelin)
“If you take refuge in a magic four-wheeler at times of disasters such as earthquakes, there is the possibility of crashing into the tunnel’s wall due to the aftershock. Accordingly, they parked their magic four-wheelers on the emergency lane, leaving the keys still inside to make it easier to move those cars for rescue parties and such. It is written that this had been a rule.” (Arnest)
“What a strange rule. What would they have done if their expensive four-wheeler was stolen?” (Erwin)
Erw’s way of thinking is common in the current age.
Everyone except for Arnest seems to share the same opinion.
“The civilization during the era of the Ancient Magic Civilization was even more advanced than the one in the current demon country. Exactly because it was a state of emergency, they wanted the citizens to act by certain standards and the majority enacted this. Given that there actually existed an insurance against theft, everyone abode the government’s instructions without worrying about it in particular.” (Arnest)
“Insurance; what’s that?” (Luise)
“It is a system where you will be compensated for your losses in case something happens, if you pay a certain amount of money each month in advance.” (Arnest)
“I don’t really get it. Isn’t it usually better to save money to buy a new one instead of doing this monthly pay thing?” (Luise)
“The money paid monthly is just a small amount.” (Arnest)
“In that case I think that there will also be some people demanding funds for a new car after saying their car, which has gotten old, was stolen though…” (Luise)
“I will not say that such people will not exist, but insurances are a system that yields a profit if you manage them smartly.” (Arnest)
Luise apparently harbored doubts about the insurance system’s structure.
Certainly, on the current Lingaia Continent it might be difficult to run an insurance company.
“Putting aside that system called insurance, they stopped their cars on the emergency lane and evacuated outside the tunnel because something happened. You say the tunnel was buried for some kind of reason after they left?”
“Rather than some kind, it was likely the huge explosion which destroyed the Ancient Magic Civilization.” (Arnest)
Arnest explains that there was an explosion due to a failed large-scale magic device experiment carried out by the central state of the Ancient Magic Civilization, resulting in the disappearance of the central state. The civilization collapsed in the following chaos.
“This tunnel was built quite sturdily to have withstood such a huge explosion.”
“I imagine that the entrances on both sides had been buried at a relatively early stage. It had been built quite sturdily to begin with, and the 『Ultra-Preservation』 was active as well.” (Arnest)
It ended up being buried during the destruction of the Ancient Magic Civilization, and then wasn’t restored afterwards due to some kind of circumstances.
I guess that means the amount of debris burying the entrances gradually increased, the number of people remembering the tunnel diminished slowly as well, and in the end it turned into a historic ruin.
“The magic four-wheelers are in a good state as well, aren’t they?”
“It was good that the entrances had been blocked as the effect of 『Ultra-Preservation』 also reached the tunnel’s space.” (Arnest)
As expected, had the magic four-wheelers been exposed to wind for 10,000 years, they would have turned into rubble by now.
Though I suppose they would have been taken away robbers before that.
Almost all the magic four-wheelers that have been parked on the emergency lanes seem to be normally movable.
Their state was the same as back then.
Some are close to new, and there are also worn-out, seasoned trucks.
“I suppose we will leave the retrieval of the vehicles to the guards dispatched by Roderich. Let’s move on.” (Wendelin)
Thinking that, I’m about to return to our cars. But for some reason only Erw was staring at something through the opened door of a slightly separated car.
“Erw, what’s there?” (Wendelin)
“Wend, the books from the Ancient Magic Civilization’s era are really amazing!” (Erwin)
What Erw was looking at was something similar to weekly colored magazine.
A magazine close to Friday or Focus in Japan, which wrote about the love life and nightly affairs of celebrities, the corruption of politicians and nobles, and also had the typical page with nude and swimsuit-wearing model pictures.
“How magnificent. To not take that along would be a waste.” (Erwin)
Erw was entranced with the nude pictures in the magazine he had found.
It was left inside the car, but I guess the car owner didn’t consider the magazine to have that much value to take it with them during the evacuation.
Well, even in Japan it was something you’d throw away immediately after reading it.
“It is a cheap magazine. They also exist in the demon country.” (Arnest)
Arnest says while peeking into the magazine from behind Erw who’s zealously staring on the nude model.
“They also exist in the demon country?” (Wendelin)
“However, nude photos are prohibited.” (Arnest)
“A women movement was naggy about it. Saying something about it infringing the rights of women.” (Arnest)
Somehow that’s a story I have heard somewhere before.
“Since half of the voters are women, the politicians have to consider them appropriately, too. In addition a movement towards banning sex services has also started since a few decades ago. A part of the intelligent men are raising appeals that this is the very cause of declining birth rates, but seeing as it is difficult to verify that claim, people, who run illegal brothels or release shady publications in the underground, have appeared once the authorities started to regulate those things. These kind of problems are issues that are extremely difficult to resolve since ancient times.” (Arnest)
That’s truly a story I have heard somewhere before.
“Erw, take it with you and look at it at home.” (Wendelin)
“I’m looking at it here because I can’t take it home.” (Erwin)
Haruka not participating in this time’s excavation is owed to her preparations for the marriage ceremony.
Erw has the job of guarding me, and so he entrusted the preparation to her.
“If it’s only that much, you should be able to take it back and look at it normally, no?” (Wendelin)
“No! I will be scolded by Haruka-san!” (Erwin)
“Just how much does she have you under her control…” (Wendelin)
“Wend, I’m not being controlled by her!” (Erwin)
It’s no wonder that I think that to be the case, seeing that he will be scolded by his wife for just looking at erotic pictures, right?
After all, someone like me…ah, I guess I don’t really need something like erotic pictures.
Telling Erw to quickly get on the magic four-wheeler, I try to leave this place.
“Wend, you are also scared of Elise and the others, aren’t you?” (Erwin)
“No way, what are you saying all of a sudden…” (Wendelin)
This me, who has become an Earl and who possesses five wives and one mistress, is scared of women?
By no means. I really think that I don’t need something like erotic photos.
“Wend, are those your true feelings?” (Erwin)
“Isn’t that obvious?” (Wendelin)
“This magazine writes about a special cosplay edition for this week’s release…I don’t understand the meaning of the word cosplay, but somehow it sounds fun.” (Erwin)
“As feudal lord I own the right over artifacts. Erw, if necessary, you will borrow it from me.” (Wendelin)
Since it piqued my interest a bit, I decide to set it aside just in case.
After all it might actually have some literary value.
I quickly store the magazine into my magic bag and then we depart further into the tunnel.
Of course the matter with the ero-book is a secret from Elise and the others.
“What a long tunnel.”
While only depending on the lights of the magic four-wheelers, we head deeper into the tunnel.
Given that abandoned vehicles, which had been left on the other lanes besides the emergency lanes, gradually became more frequent, I told Luise to drop the driving speed.
We have already advanced roughly 480 km in a half day at an average speed of 40 km/h.
I think it’s proper to call it a long tunnel, but if you walk across the mountain roads of the Greater League Mountain Range, the way in one direction takes around half a month.
I guess you can call that only natural.
“I see it.” (Arnest)
Finally we discovered a door, which had a sign stating 『Only authorized personnel』, at the tunnel’s side.
“I will open it.” (Katharina)
Once Katharina opens the door with the 『Unlock』 spell, using it for the first time in a while, we find a huge magic crystal and several peripheral devices inside.
“It is not out of order. If you supply mana, as you see…” (Arnest)
Once Arnest pours mana into the empty mana crystal, it immediately recovers its crimson brightness.
When we leave the room, the magic lights and ventilation devices inside the tunnel have come back to life.
“Indeed, with this the tunnel has become really bright.”
As expected we were exhausted after being crammed into a car for half a day.
We camp just like that on that day, and once again resume driving with the cars on the next morning.
The destination is the exit on the opposite side.
“Driving it is simple, and not as complicated as riding a horse.” (Wilma)
In the eyes of Wilma, who had become capable of handling a magic gun and doing simple maintenance on it, driving the magic four-wheeler doesn’t seem to be overly difficult. She switched with Erw, but is likewise steering it skillfully.
“Mmh? The engine stalled?” (Luise)
“That’s odd…” (Katharina)
“If you change the gear, you have to let go of the clutch a bit more slowly.” (Luise)
On the other hand, Katharina, who changed with Luise, frequently caused the engine to stall at the beginning.
There appears to be no automatic transmission in these magic four-wheelers.
Given that I only drove automatic cars in my previous life, I recalled that I caused the engine to stall a few times at the beginning.
“Like this?” (Katharina)
“Yeah, that’s right. You don’t have to be flustered since stalling the engine is nothing particularly significant either. If you have driven for a while, you will get used to it.” (Luise)
At first she was bewildered, but even Katharina became able to drive the car normally in no time.
“But, it’s truly a long tunnel, isn’t it?”
Since Katharina had gotten used to driving, she switched with Ina next.
Given that she has the same good reflexes as Luise, she was immediately able to drive normally.
“We are going to come out in the Breithilde Margraviate, right?”
“According to the map Arnest created while referencing the documents, that seems to be the case.” (Wendelin)
Sitting in the passenger seat, I check back with the handwritten map.
It’s close to a region of small, mixed fiefs in the east, but according to the calculations, we should come out at the base of a mountain located in the Breithilde Margraviate. If it’s him, the various negotiations and formalities shouldn’t pose much of a problem even on the opposite side of the tunnel.
“We arrived.” (Katharina)
“We will wait here for a while, correct?”
If we remove the debris on the other side all of a sudden, it might cause many troublesome issues.
Hence we have decided to wait here until the guards dispatched by Roderich finish their examination and the collection of the magic four-wheelers. There rest will be a job I will carry out together with Arnest and Katharina.
“Just in case it’s necessary to confirm that it’s safe.”
Therefore just the three of us will now go back through the tunnel.
While casting spells such as 『Detection』, 『Sensing』 and 『Probe』 on the way, we started to check whether there are no damaged parts and internal cracks in the tunnel.
“Nothing less of Earl Ischrubak, a splendid construction work.” (Arnest)
Arnest examined the tunnel’s state by using an original sonar-like magic.
This spells seems to belong to the wind attribute. Besides darkness magic, which manipulates someone’s mind, he’s apparently good at wind magic.
He told me that it’s his most useful spell during historic ruin excavations.
“I can use some earth and water magic, too. Fire is of no use to this me. It is at the level of starting a fire during camping.” (Arnest)
Except for darkness, which is the special magic of demons, he hasn’t learned anything but spells necessary for excavations.
In a certain sense it’s also a fresh way of thinking.
Once we have almost returned to the middle of the tunnel’s length while investigating, Thomas and Nikolaus show up while leading several hundred guards.
“I see, this is indeed an amazing, ancient ruin.”
Thomas seems to be the guard captain and Nikolaus serves as his vice-captain.
Ordering the soldiers, they immediately carried out the work of collecting the vehicles.
“Did the personnel increase again?”
“Yes. The Baumeister Earldom is growing rapidly after all.”
New retainers are constantly hired, and they are assigned jobs in accordance to their abilities and personalities.
There are many places that have to be protected. Since public order is slightly bad because of the many new settlers, the organization of the guard unit and the feudal army took priority.
“Nowadays we are treated as seniority.”
“By now we have an overwhelming number of juniors.”
“Even Roderich, the most senior one among us, has been serving for less than five years.”
Thomas’ and the others’ continuous service isn’t much shorter than that of Tristan’s group.
“Be that as it may, such a huge tunnel, huh? It looks like guarding it will be difficult.”
“We still haven’t removed the debris at the exit. Once that’s done, we will have to settle things such as ownership ratio and the sharing of guarding and administrative responsibilities, but do as much as you can for now.” (Wendelin)
“Ah, there’s the allotment of ownership, eh? But, won’t the negotiations be easy if it’s Margrave Breithilde-sama?”
The tunnel goes through the Greater League Mountain Range.
If one were to speak about the owner of that mountain range, it’s pretty much set in stone.
South from the summit it’s the Baumeister Earldom. The rest belongs to the Breithilde Margraviate and some nobles of an alliance of smaller feudal lords.
However, the Greater League Mountain Range itself has difficult mountain roads, and serves as dwelling of flying dragons and wyverns. In addition there are also many ferocious wild animals.
If you were to ask which noble is actually exercising their rule, the answer would be: none.
“Half each with Margrave Breithilde-sama then?”
“We are the discoverers. Even at lowest, we will claim the part until the power room.”
The room with the magic crystal that acts as energy source for the magic lights and air condition inside the tunnel. That one is important, so we must not yield its ownership.
“Then let’s hurry up and put the rule in practice.” (Thomas)
Probably because of their experience in the dispute with the Margrave Browig household, Thomas understood very quickly.
While helping with the tunnel checking and collecting the abandoned vehicles, we are actively taking the tunnel under our control by positioning guards. At the same time the guards practiced driving the four-wheelers.
“I’d like to deploy these to some extent.”
“We will definitely do that.”
Because the tunnel is too long, they won’t be able to cope in an emergency situation if they don’t move by car.
Using horses would be fine as well, but that would take time.
“I guess it’s finally time to dig out the exit.”
Three days after Thomas and the guards came, the tunnel was judged to be completely safe.
Guards have been deployed at the entrance and various other places. They go on periodic patrols with the magic four-wheelers.
The guards have even put their hands on the power room with the magic crystal. At last we began to dig out through the sand and earth at the exit.
“No matter how much I dig, and dig, and dig…sand and earth keeps flowing in…”
A huge amount of sand and earth has piled up above the exit in 10,000 years. It might have turned into a mountain.
I put all of it into magic bags, and go to pass all of it, including the part that covered the entrance, to Roderich.
“Let’s use the sand and earth to fill up where necessary.” (Roderich)
Roderich proceeded with the plan of the filling up work.
After leaping with 『Teleportation』 on-site, I put the piled-up sand and earth into my magic bag. The trees will be bought by merchants for lumber.
Thanks to the massive demand for constructions, there’s never enough lumber around. The merchants bought all of it happily.
“We have no other choice but to keep digging while being cautious to not get buried alive.”
Once we remove sand and earth on the exit’s side, more of it streams into the hole, returning it all to its original state.
This repeated itself for a while, but at last sunlight shone through the exit.
With the tunnel opening, everyone is deeply moved by the light that leaks in.
“I will make a path.”
Once I got rid of another big amount of debris, it became apparent that the accumulated sand and earth on the exit’s side had also turned into a mountain.
After removing all of it, the tunnel was reopened at last.
“It’s open, but…”
“How very quiet…”
Luise, who left the tunnel aiming to be the first to get out, can’t hide her surprise due to the scenery spreading in front of her.
It’s because that place is a rural farming region, seemingly located in the mountains. Several farmers were carefreely plowing their fields.
“Oh dear! Just when I thought that the mountain’s slope had suddenly vanished, it next turned into a cave.”
“We gotta inform the Lord of this.”
“Those people are underground dwellers?”
They are surprised by the suddenly opened tunnel. One of the farmers runs at a great speed to call their lord.
“Huh? This isn’t the Breithilde Margraviate, is it?” (Wendelin)
“Milord, maybe it’s an area managed by a governor?” (Thomas)
Thomas, I and the others can’t hide our surprise due to the rural area outside the tunnel’s exit.
For some reason or another I had a bad premonition, but that I would be dragged into the characteristic troubles of nobility again was something I couldn’t imagine at that moment in time.
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- I’m going to stop with the sister-in-law crap. If you read this far, you know who she is anyway
- Somehow I can’t find the proper word here. She means an attribute of being older than the person concerned. Basically she’s saying that Wendelin is drawn to Amelie because she’s an older sister with more experience than him.