TNG Vol. 16 Chapter 1 – Part 3

“The king is coming? He didn’t summon us, is he going to come here directly?”

The following morning after breakfast, they received a surprising message.

It was true that Orlean and the others knew that Shin’s party was staying at the former Lucent residence.

Orlean said that a messenger was likely to come, so they knew that they could not avoid meeting the king.

However, not even Shin would have predicted that the king would personally visit the residence.

“The king is waiting outside the residence. Can we let him inside?”

The elf who came to bring the message seemed shaken too.

Though he was a member of a caretaker clan, directly dealing with the country’s king was not an everyday occurrence.

“Is there a room used for audiences or something similar?”

“There is a room for special guests, but…how many people are there in the king’s entourage?”

“Including the escorts, about 20.”

“That’s a lot…”

It was not a room meant for discussing matters in secrecy, but it could not house that many people.

They couldn’t say that they had to limit the number of participants because they didn’t have a large enough room, so they decided to meet in the relatively large main hall.

Shin’s group entrusted the residence worker with the message and went ahead to the main hall. After a while, the worker accompanied a group of elves inside.

Leading the group was an elf clad in a gorgeous, robe-like garment. He held a golden staff in his right hand and wore a silver tiara. Both items were Mythology-grade.

Erdyne Lu – Level 255 – Pope

(Level maxed out, and his job is also the highest one in the cleric category. I guess he’s a Chosen One)

Level, equipment, job. Everything expressed how he wasn’t any ordinary elf.

Erdyne emanated an aura that Shin found similar to the kings he’d met in the past.

As should probably be expected, he carried the charisma of one who leads others.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance. I am Erdyne Lu, king of Lanapacea, and….”

Erdyne’s words then stopped.

He wasn’t looking towards Schnee, who was standing in front of the group as its leader, but towards Shin.

“Your Majesty, is anything the matter?”

An old elf behind Erdyne spoke.

Erdyne, however, continued looking at Shin, as if there was something he had to confirm.

A few seconds later, he turned around to face his entourage.

“Padan, stay with me. Everyone else shall wait outside.”

“Your Majesty!?”

The escorts and the functionaries were shocked by the king’s words. It was clear that the king was speaking and acting differently than the Erdyne they knew.

“Did you not hear me?”

“Yes, however….”

The elves who were reluctant to agree, judging from their clothing, were probably civil functionaries. Shin could understand deciding that there was no need for an escort, but could not fathom why the king would tell all other functionaries to leave the room.

“Enough. You are making our saviour wait.”

The old elf was probably Padan. He was startled at first, but quickly recovered his composure.

Realizing that there was no point in further discussion, all elves other than the king and Padan left the room.

Shin’s party did not say anything either.

“Padan, soundproof.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Padan obeyed the king’s orders and cast a soundproof spell on the room.

Erdyne then turned again towards Shin’s group and kneeled down. The country’s king, Erdyne. Behind him, Padan kneeled too.

“What is the meaning of this?”

“Our humblest apologies for forcing you to act because of our blunders, o noble souls.”

Erdyne answered Schnee’s question without raising his head.

Shin, looking at him, suddenly realized something.

Erdyne and Padan were kneeling in a slightly different direction, facing towards Shin.

“A country’s king should not kneel so casually.”

“Before someone lauded and praised since the Dusk of Majesty, who some even called “God”, a king is of little importance.”

“God?”

Erdyne’s words made Schnee’s aura change. She often received requests from the top brass of many countries, but she was never treated as a god.

The king was not looking at her during the previous conversation either.

“To be able to bask in your presence once again is an indescribable honor, o Noble Shin.”

“Er, where have we met…?”

Shin looked at the kneeling Erdyne and tried jogging his memory. Ever since he arrived in this world, he had visited various places. No matter how hard he thought, however, he did not recall ever meeting Erdyne.

The king would rarely, if ever, leave his country, after all.

“It happened before the Dusk of Majesty, so it is not strange for you not to remember.”

“Ah…wait…could it be that you know about my species…?”

“Among all High Humans, the esteemed members of Rokuten were widely known, both in name and appearance, after all. In this country, only I and Padan ever saw you.”

Shin looked at Padan, who nodded silently. He probably quickly regained his composure because he realized who Shin was.

“I see, so that’s how it is. Anyway, please stand up. As you can see with Schnee taking the position of party leader, I do not openly say I am a High Human. Besides, if you really know us from the past, you wouldn’t place such importance on things like that, right?”

In THE NEW GATE, Shin and the others were among the top league of players, but they never looked down on other players or NPCs.

“…if you graciously say so…”

While carefully looking at Schnee and the others’ expressions, Erdyne and Padan stood up.

Even if Shin himself said so, Schnee and the others might not share the same opinion. Even if they didn’t say anything, if they leaked their aura of intimidation just a little bit it would create a strong pressure.

Even if Erdyne was strong, by this world’s standards, and was equipped in precious gear, he wouldn’t be much different from the average citizen when compared to Schnee and the others.

Since Schnee and the others did not exude any such aura and simply stood there quietly, however, such worries were completely unnecessary.

“In any case, it would be a great help if you could consider our participation in this incident to be under Schnee’s leadership.”

“Understood. I will speak of the truth to no one.”

If information about the return of a High Human went public, many countries would surely act to verify the truth of such information. In such a case, many would learn that Shibaid left his country or about the man often seen together with Schnee.

Consequently, they will learn of the adventurer who shared the same name as the High Human Shin.

Some already knew about Shin’s outstanding abilities, so they could make the connection.

It was possible that some had already reached this conclusion, but Shin had no intention of revealing his identity as a High Human all the same.

If Erdyne was willing to keep quiet about it, it would be the best thing they could hope for.

“I assume that since you asked about that, you have some business with us, yes?”

Even if the king approached the High Human Shin, if he used meeting Schnee as a pretext no one would suspect anything. Shin’s party would have an audience with him as if they would do with any other king, then be on their way.

There had to be a specific reason why the king did not choose this method.

“Yes, but it is not about something I wish you to do. There is something I must give back to you, Noble Shin.”

“Something…to give back to me?”

Shin had no idea about what Erdyne meant.

Ever since coming to this world, he had used up and thrown away some weapons, but there was no reason why Erdyne would give him back such things.

“Noble Shin, do you remember the Reforgerer which appeared before the Dusk of Majesty?”

“Yes, I do.”

Being blown away, shield and all, was not an experience that could be easily forgotten.

“I participated in that battle as well. Of course, if the players did not participate there would have been no chance of overcoming the situation.”

Other than the players, many NPCs also participated in the battle against Reforgerer. Erdyne was one of them, apparently.

“What I wish to give back to you is the blade part of a weapon Master Cook used in that battle. I would have never thought to see you today, so I did not bring it with me, however.”

“Cook’s weapon…? Now that I think about it, that time her weapon broke, so I fixed it…”

The battle against Reforgerer in the game era was completely a battle of attrition.

Cook was part of the group in charge of resurrecting the World Tree, but it did not mean that they only provided rear support.

From Reforgerer’s standpoint, they were trying to block its source of energy, making them an obstacle. They would naturally get targeted too.

Shin had gotten blown away while preventing Reforgerer from targeting them, but they did not come out of it unscathed. Cook’s weapon was broken because Shin’s group could not defend them in time, Cook and other elites stood in defense of their group.

As a result, Cook’s weapon was broken cleanly. Shin remembered that when he materialized the item card Cook gave him, only the handle of her special cooking knife remained.

As a weapon it belonged to the sword category, but cooking knives were used to assist in cooking. In battle it was inferior to others in the same grade: against a monster like Reforgerer, it was no mystery that it would break.

“We should have given it back to you sooner, but we did not have the means…”

“No, I had given up on the blade part, so I thank you for preserving it until now.”

Shin then bowed. In the game weapons often broke down, so he hadn’t given a second thought about the shattered blade part.

Erdyn and the others, however, kept it safely until now.

Their situation was different, of course, but as a blacksmith Shin felt that he owed them gratitude.

“Please, we have done nothing worthy of your gratitude. We have done research on it, after all.”

“Even so, I must thank you.”

Even if it was broken, the blade still belonged to an Ancient-grade weapon. It wasn’t strange to research to garner some information, replied Shin while laughing.

“I am relieved to hear that.”

The king said that they would have the blade delivered the next day and moved to the next topic.

“It’s about Lady Tiera…”

Thanks to the recent events, no one would doubt Tiera’s innocence and her strong purification powers.

Those who did not witness her feats might still doubt her, but Reforgerer’s massive body and the resurrection of the World Tree were visible as far as the royal residential district. There were also the other priestesses’ testimonies.

Erdyne also added that any elf of enough ability could see the number and quality of the spirits around Tiera.

It was clear that her strength had surpassed the realm of the average priestess. 

Tiera’s abilities were originally superior to the average elf too.

In this world, it was both an advantage and a disadvantage.

“In the current Lanapacea, Lady Tiera could be a trigger for conflict. People are attracted to what glows bright, and their eyes are eventually blinded. For those who seek the light, this impulse is probably irresistible.”

Everyone in the room understood that the king was talking about the former retainers of the Lucent clan.

Even after Tiera’s exile and the death of the last clan head, there were retainers who served the Luderia or Lulac, but remained loyal to the Lucent at heart.

For them, Tiera was an ideal “flag” to rally under.

“I do not mean to say that all of them are like that, of course. Having said this, I ask: Lady Tiera, do you intend to stay in Lanapacea?”

Differently from how he spoke to Shin or Schnee, Erdyne addressed Tiera with the expression of a king.

“…no, I do not plan to stay in this country. I only came here to visit my parents’ graves in the first place.”

Tiera was almost intimidated by Erdyne’s presence, but managed to give a clear reply. Her expression suggested that even if she was requested to stay, she would not comply.

“I see. my apologies.”

Erdyne spoke quietly yet firmly.

The words he uttered while lowering his head contained various different meanings.

“The blade we have preserved will be delivered tomorrow. There will be no more interference from us in your activities.”

“We will depart as soon as we receive the blade, then. If we stayed longer we might trigger other commotions.”

Shin’s words were meant not only for Erdyne, but also for Tiera to hear. She probably realized it, as she silently nodded.

“Sorry for leaving so suddenly.”

After the conversation ended, Shin checked that there was no one else around and said so.

Even if they were involved in an unexpected incident, Lanapacea was still Tiera’s hometown. Shin wanted to leave early so that they would not be involved in other problems, but he also thought that they could stay a little longer.

“My business here is done, so don’t worry. Rather, where are we going to go next?”

“I was thinking of looking for my guildhouse first, but there’s no clues as to where it could be, and searching blindly doesn’t feel constructive…so I was thinking of starting from Romenun, since we know where it is at least. We should meet with Oxygen and Hydro too.”

Because of the series of incidents the group had to deal with, the search for the guildhouses had been pushed back.

The timing was right, so they decided to head for Romenun.

“It’s not close, though, so it’ll take a few days, that’s the issue.”

Based on the information obtained from Berett, support character of “Golden Merchant” Reed, Schnee — who was familiar with the continent’s geography — estimated that with a normal horse-drawn carriage it would take about six months to reach it from Lanapacea.

Romenun was located in a forest area southeast of the region that connected the continent’s upper and lower half.

There weren’t any paved roads leading all the way to the location, and even if they used the available roads, it would probably take that much time.

“Our carriage and Kagerou’s power combined, we can reduce that to less than half. Well, we don’t have any other urgent business to take care of, so we could take it easy once in a while.”

After being teleported away, Shin and Schnee managed to spend some relaxing time.

Tiera and Shibaid were busy in Lanapacea, Filma and Sety in the city taken over by the demon, however, so they did not have any time to rest properly.

Filma and the others were as strong, physically and mentally, as Shin and Schnee were, but they still needed to rest. Shin thought that they should take advantage of any rest time they had.

“Who would have expected that they found out my species, though…”

Shin said that he was really taken aback by it.

He would have never expected Erdyne, just an NPC in the game era, not even a support character, but one of the mass-produced ones, to remember him.

Shin wondered if the king acted and spoke so politely throughout the visit because he witnessed Shin’s battle and was careful not to say anything unpleasant.

Another reason for this suspicion was that, about the crystal found in Crissot’s room, Erdyne simply said that he would like to know whatever information they could extract, but only if possible.

“I believe there are a fairly large number of such people among the species with great longevity. There might be others who noticed it already too.”

“For Humans and Beasts, it’s the stuff of legends, but Elves and Pixies might have witnessed it with their own eyes, after all.”

Shin thought that, if they had actually seen his past battles, they would be rightly terrified. Players like him were those who hunted the monsters told in this world’s tales as capable of destroying entire countries, after all. They were able to converse, but in case of battle they would be no different from the monsters they hunted.

Thinking about it again, Shin realized that Erdyne’s complexion looked sickly the whole time.

“Talking together like this, anyone should realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of, though.”

“They were probably on the same level as those called Chosen Ones, elves with relatively high strength. Because their powers were often superior to others, they realized how much of a difference there was between them and Shin. If that is the starting point, then reducing the distance is difficult.”

Shibaid probably spoke from experience. He answered Tiera’s perplexed comment while looking at the door Erdyne left from.

“Being in charge of a whole country, he surely has many things on his mind”

“That is true. One man’s decision influences the fate of thousands. The pressure is overwhelming. Not that Shin would ever destroy a country on a whim, though.”

“That’s for sure…”

Shin looked like it was too much even as a joke. If they considered whether he physically could or not, he probably could: that was what made it awkward to laugh.

In actuality, such a feat was possible for all members of his party.

Even Tiera, who had the lowest stats of the group, was far beyond the standards of this world. 

Her stats already rivaled advanced Chosen Ones.

Combined with the equipment crafted by Shin and Kagerou’s support, she could probably bring down a smaller country by herself.

Tiera was an elf, naturally proficient at using bows, and the bow she used had a much longer range than normal ones. Normal soldiers and even Chosen Ones below the advanced level would be nothing but fodder for her.

“Okay, enough about this. Let’s contact Filma and decide where to meet up.”

The conversation was gradually heading in a dangerous direction, so Shin abruptly changed the topic.

On Filma’s side, the situation was not as dire as Reforgerer’s summoning. 

Since there was no contact from them, it probably meant that nothing worse than that had happened.

“If they say that the crisis hasn’t been solved, I’m thinking of going to join them.”

“I agree. It’s in a different direction than Romenun, but going there ourselves or meeting halfway wouldn’t change much.”

The country where Filma and Sety currently were was located north of Lanapacea. It wasn’t the opposite direction to Romenun, but it was nonetheless out of the way.

Both groups, however, could travel much faster than ordinary horse carriages. Compared to the distance that separated them from Romenun, it wouldn’t make much of a difference where they regrouped.

“We’ll wait for the delivery tomorrow, then leave. Be careful so that they don’t notice, just in case.”

They would depart even if the elves knew, but it would surely be better to go quickly without anything happening.

The next day, Erdyne visited the residence again, accompanied by a heavy-duty escort.

“Well now….”

“This item has no equals in this world, so even the king cannot take it out without a proper escort.”

Padan approached Shin’s group first and explained the reason behind the large escort.

In this world, Ancient-grade weapons were considered national treasures, even if broken.

If it was put on sale, billions of gold Jul coins would move. It was obvious that it had to be well guarded.

“This is the item I promised.”

Erdyne presented the blade, laid on a cloth. Schnee was the one to take it: even if Erdyne knew about Shin’s species, he couldn’t be the one to receive the blade since other people were present.

In the game era, Schnee knew all Rokuten members other than Shin.

In the previous day’s discussion with Erdyne, they reached the conclusion that Schnee’s abilities and the fact she was trusted by many countries made her a fitting person to entrust the blade to.

“I shall preserve it safely until my master or Master Cook return.”

“Thank you very much.”

Erdyne watched Schnee turn the blade into a card and put it into the item box, then left. Some of the other elves looked like they wanted to speak to Tiera, but since the king was leaving they couldn’t stay back, and in the end there was no contact between them.

“Okay, let’s go then.”

Shin said they would take a look at the city’s current situation and left the residence. They did not head for the city center, however, but for the gate leading outside.

“They didn’t say anything, but is this really alright?”

Shin asked if there wasn’t anyone Tiera was close to. If her saying goodbye would start a commotion, that would be inevitable, he thought.

“I came here suddenly anyway, so it fits to leave as suddenly.”

Tiera said it was nothing.

Shin’s party used less crowded streets and concealment-type skills as they walked out of the village. Tiera said that she wanted to walk a bit slowly when they left, and Shin wouldn’t ever refuse to cooperate.

“You are…”

When they arrived at the gate they found the same elf that Shin met when he arrived, Anaheit. They could have passed the gate while still invisible, but Tiera asked to not hide at least when they crossed the gate.

“….are you leaving?”

Anaheit noticed Tiera, Shin and the others and asked for confirmation.

“Yes, I have no reason to stay.”

After Tiera replied, the other elves noticed her too. However, Anaheit raised one hand and the elves who were about to move stopped in their tracks.

“Sir, are you really sure?”

“Our duty is to guard the gate. When Lady Tiera was exiled, us gate guardians did not agree or disagree with such a measure. If we were strong enough to deal with the monsters, however, that tragedy might have been prevented. If she has decided to leave, there is no way we could ever stop her, is there?”

Anaheit answered one of the elves’ questions without any hesitation. Apparently, he was the gate guardian 100 years before too. His words were meant to convince the other elves, but also to apologize to Tiera for his powerlessness.

“Farewell, then.”

“I pray your travels will be safe.”

Probably thanks to Anaheit’s words, no one tried to stop them. Though, they all lowered their heads. 

They likewise probably served as gate guardians 100 years before, like Anaheit. Thus his words affected them deeply.

Shin materialized the horse carriage, which Kagerou drew. Tiera continued looking at Lanapacea, until the trees concealed it from her sight.

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