If you speak about a royal castle in a human country, there are certain expectations towards its appearance, even if they’re only vague.
In most of the common fantasy settings it should be a structure similar to a western-styled castle.
The castle, where Renya himself is living, was miles apart from that very image, but if he’s asked what he prefers, Renya wants a design that stresses practicality over eccentricity and a structure that also allowed for it to be used as a high-performance fortress.
If it’s an elven castle, anyone can imagine it.
Isn’t it a very elegantly-built structure that uses many curves and green colors as its base? One can easily make such predictions.
Renya has never seen the real thing, but from the things he has heard from Croire so far, it doesn’t seem his imagination was that far off.
However, where the beastmen’s royal castle is concerned, Renya doesn’t have the slightest clue as for what it could look like.
It’s not like I think they’re using some dug-out rocky mountain as a castle. Somehow I feel like they have castles similar to the ones used by humans.
Also I can’t discard the possibility that they are using an absurdly, graceful structure due to some kind of accident. There’s even the possibility that they are claiming that a building, which can’t be called a castle, is actually one.
When he arrived at a hut to which he had been guided to while blindly running behind Kaede for a while, Renya showed an idiotic and flabbergasted expression which is rare for him.
“Okay everybody, this way please.” (Kaede)
That, which is located in the center of a garden that had been more or less tended to while also being surrounded by walls, has a number of beastman soldiers assigned to it as a defensive unit, which seems to be nothing more than an excuse given their numbers and organization. Once they recognize Kaede, they salute and open the door of the hut.
“Oi, Kaede?” (Renya)
“What might it be?” (Kaede)
Kaede turns around with a curious expression after being called to a halt by Renya.
While thinking, I’m sure that everyone behind me except for Lepard is most likely showing the same expression as me, Renya asked Kaede, representing the group’s doubts,
“You said that you would be guiding us to the royal castle, didn’t you?” (Renya)
“Yes, quite so.” (Kaede)
Behind Kaede, who answers with a smile plastered all over her face, her fox tail shakes up and down in a somewhat good mood.
While being almost completely certain that they are being messed with, Renya saw Lepard quietly avert his eyes when he looked back.
It seems it’s not the first time this conversation has taken place.
In the first place, there are many occasions in literature and art where foxes are described as mischievous beings, so she might have partially feigned friendliness during her stay in Klinge as it was a foreign country, Renya decides to interpret this in her favor.
As it’s not like they are in any special hurry, he won’t get angry even if they are forced to accompany her in her childish mischief.
“To my eyes it looks like a simple hut, but…do the beastmen call that hut a royal castle?” (Renya)
“There’s no way for that to be the case. A hut is a hut.” (Kaede)
“…You are going to guide us to the royal castle, right?” (Renya)
“Yes. I will guide you there.” (Kaede)
This kind of exchange is not at a level that would worry the current Renya too much.
Seemingly letting their patience, which was proportional to their life spans, surface, the elves absentmindedly watch the conversation between Renya and Kaede.
Emil looks like a human, but her contents are of something else. She too watched Renya without looking offended.
The problem problem originated from the humans.
Likely because of her lower social standing compared to Kaede, Rona endures it patiently.
Shion seems to not understand what’s happening and just looks at Renya’s conduct, but Mayria, who doesn’t have the issue of being in a lower social position and wouldn’t be punished even if she directly complained, snapped at Kaede’s attitude.
“Is inviting us a prank…? Your taste in humor is really bad.” (Mayria)
“No, not at all. It’s a very serious invitation. It’s definitely not a prank.” (Kaede)
“Talk to me while looking this way.” (Mayria)
Also due to Mayria’s low and suppressed voice, Kaede looks as though she isn’t able to put up with it at all.
While subtlety averting her eyes from Mayria, she still responds calmly,
“Ah, no. Since it looks like I have offended you in various ways, I felt uncertain what would happen if I looked you in the eyes.” (Kaede)
“Haven’t you been taught to look the person you are talking to in the eyes?” (Mayria)
“I have been continuously trained as a priestess since my childhood. Though I was taught to slightly avert my eyes from the other party when talking with them.” (Kaede)
It’s not like you can say that either party is in the wrong here.
It’s probably just like not knowing something that they haven’t been taught, Renya believes.
“Mayria, calm down. What are you going to do with such a low boiling point as the next Archduchess?” (Renya)
“But, Renya-san…” (Mayria)
“I told you to calm down. It’s not a very praiseworthy story, but Kaede said that it’s this way, not that this is the royal castle.” (Renya)
If someone other than yourself starts to get worked up with emotions due to taking offense, the other humans will be either lured in and get all emotional too, or they’ll remain calm and still be able to think things through logically.
Even Renya began to faintly feel irritated due to Kaede’s attitude, however, thanks to Mayria snapping at her, he was able to assess the situation objectively, allowing him to scrutinize Kaede’s words carefully.
“Since she hasn’t said a single word about this place being the royal castle, it’s most likely not, right?” (Renya)
When Renya says so while staring at Kaede in order to make sure, Kaede answers to that with a smile.
“It’s just as you say. To be accurate, we are still on the way to the royal castle. The entrance is this way.” (Kaede)
Being encouraged with a “Please go inside,” Renya and the others enter the hut.
Mayria could be heard mumbling complaints in the back, but Renya thought it strange that Lepard apologized to her for some reason.
Similar to the feeling that this isn’t the first time this conversation has been held, Lepard apologizing to the offended visitors also seems to be something normal.
The hut, which Renya’s group entered, was pitch dark inside as it had no windows.
After holding back Renya, who was about to cast a magic light, with a gesture, Kaede closes the hut’s door.
Seemingly succumbing to slight anxiousness inside the hut that had become completely dark, Shion snuggled up to Renya’s right shoulder.
“Okay, everybody, please be careful as it will shake a bit.” (Kaede)
Kaede’s voice reverberates in the darkness.
No sooner than hearing that, the floor at their feet releases a faint, white light.
Moreover, although it’s just a bit, the entire floor began to vibrate.
Different from the astonished humans and elves, Frau, who clung to Renya’s back, calmly whispered close to his ear,
“Master, the ceiling continues to grow distant ~no.” (Renya)
Once Renya looks up above after being told that, he could see that the ceiling, which was faintly illuminated by the light released from the floor, was gradually disappearing, apparently exiting the range where the light could reach.
His other party members are preoccupied with just the shining, trembling floor and still haven’t noticed the ceiling.
While watching the ceiling disappear little-by-little, Renya thinks, It feels like one of those things you enter in some haunted house in my original world.
“Renya, Renya! The floor is shining and jolting!” (Shion)
“That’s right.” (Renya)
“Why are you so calm!?” (Shion)
The humans and elves, who don’t understand the situation, were somehow looking shaken up, but for Renya, who somewhat understands what’s going on, there’s no reason to panic.
It’s because he knew that there simply was a shaft right below the floor and that the floor had begun to go downwards just like an elevator, traveling along that shaft.
But, given that it would be bothersome to explain all that, he caught Shion’s attention, who is kicking up a fuss while clinging to his right shoulder, by pointing at the ceiling.
Following Renya’s finger, Shion turned her eyes towards the ceiling, but now she started making an uproar due to the ceiling having already disappeared.
Once Renya looks at Kaede thinking, Once they have been surprised so much, Kaede will certainly be satisfied, Kaede glumly looked at Renya, betraying his expectations.
“Why aren’t you surprised, Renya-san…? Even though everyone seeing it for the first time loses their composure without exception.” (Kaede)
Repressing the feeling of wanting to retort, Don’t look forward to something like that, Renya replies as if it’s really no big deal,
“We are only descending to a lower strata alongside the floor, right? That’s not really all that unusual.” (Renya)
“Eh!? This is moving down?” (Shion)
Hearing Renya’s answer, Shion stares at her feet.
“Kuh…even though I planned to surprise you even further…it’s just as you say. Currently we are in the middle of descending through a shaft that was dug out right below that hut.” (Kaede)
“You are really malicious…the real issue is about where we are descending to, no?” (Renya)
“That’s of course to the place where the royal castle stands.” (Kaede)
As if taking Kaede’s reply as cue, the space, which had been illuminated by only the light from the floor, became bright in an instant.
Reflexively squinting his eyes as his eyes can’t keep up with the difference in brightness, Renya looks at the things located in his narrowed field of view and, this time, reveals a slightly surprised expression.
Due to his reaction, Kaede said, apparently in a good mood,
“How is it, Renya-san? This is the the royal castle, where our king, His Majesty the Fang King, resides.” (Kaede)
There was one long, transparent tube extending from the ceiling to the surface.
One platform is slowly descending within.
Renya, who stands on that platform, looked through the transparent wall and the view widely spreading in front of his eyes are just a countless number of lights. (T/N: Welcome to the Geofront! Be wary of Angels!)
And, on the other side beyond the lights, there’s a stone building towering over everything else.
That, which is illuminated brightly in defiance to the fact that this is a place where the sun doesn’t shine, existed inside Renya’s mind as a word, but it’s a structure he certainly never expected to see in this world, moreover not in the beastmen’s country.
“No way…this is an underground city?” (Renya)
While looking at several pipes going down from the ceiling just like the one they are currently in, Renya mentions those words, causing Kaede to glare at Renya with a somewhat frustrated expression while tightly clenching her fists.
Without caring about that, Shion stared at Renya.
“It’s a city built in a naturally-formed or human-made underground cave. On top of it becoming necessary to use a great amount of lighting, as sunlight doesn’t shine down here, you have to build a device to circulate the air here with air from above the ground with some kind of method to make sure that the air here doesn’t become polluted. It’s a city that’s absurdly costly.” (Renya)
“Muu…you are well-informed, Renya-san.” (Kaede)
Kaede says while pouting, but it’s not like Renya is as calm as she believes.
Rather, he had become pseudo-calm, only one step away from being unable to close his mouth due to the overwhelming surprise.
“Because there are several entrances on the surface, you can’t come here unless you use this elevator that’s said to put the <Flight> spell to use. This city is truly equivalent to the central part of our beastmen country.” (Kaede)
“Bui-…Building something like a city in the underground, that’s too absurd.” (Mayria)
Blankly looking at the scenery exceeding her comprehension as to how much it costs just to maintain the city, Mayria mutters, but Kaede pressed a finger against her chin and while pretending to brood, she answered,
“Is that so? As for me, I can’t understand the humans cities, who announce, “There’s an important person here,” by expressly building pompous buildings on the surface though.” (Kaede)
“Since those also possess a symbolic meaning, they are fine like that. Leaving that aside, the royal castle is the one over there?” (Renya)
For the buildings, where royalty and nobility live, to expressly have gaudiness and extravagance to the extent that they are easy to find also has the implication towards the citizens and fief residents, demonstrating, “The people above you are amazing people living in such imposing houses,” is what Renya had heard.
That’s probably not the entire reason, but it’s a part of keeping up appearances.
For Renya it was a reason he could understand, but for Kaede, a beastman, it’s apparently a reality she can’t comprehend at all.
Deciding to shelve this matter for later with, It might be racial differences, Renya points at the conspicuous stone building on the other side of the area where the lights are concentrated, likely the city’s residential and commercial districts.
After quickly checking the direction where Renya is pointing, Kaede nodded by bobbing her head.
“Yes. Over there is the royal castle, which serves as residence of our king, His Majesty the Fang King.” (Kaede)
Being told that, Renya looks once again at the huge structure.
That is, how to call it?
“With there being a huge city in the underground; was it necessary to erect such a gigantic castle?” (Renya)
This underground space, where Renya and the others continue to descend, had several hundred meters from the ceiling to the surface going by Renya’s eye measurement.
And the building said to be the royal castle, which Renya is watching right now, is cone-shaped. Boasting of such a height that it’s about to reach the ceiling, it occupied a fraction of the underground space with its fringes having a fitting size to sustain itself.
“That is somewhat like a mountain.” (Renya)
“…For generation the esteemed kings…apparently put particular preference into big and flashy things…” (Kaede)
Kaede answered Renya, who implicitly said that there’s likely too much waste involved with the castle, while being evasive, apparently thinking the same as well.