TNG Vol. 17 Chapter 1 Part 3

 

After leaving the Beast Alliance Falnido, Shin’s party promptly headed towards the Dragon Empire of Kilmont.

Kagerou was pulling the horse carriage at the usual breakneck speed. He made sure to accelerate only when there weren’t merchants around, though.

“Shibaid, can I entrust you with meeting the Dragon Emperor?”

“Indeed, things should work quickly if I go in person. I might have left the empire, but I have no objections to informing them about impending danger.”

Shibaid was prepared for the empire to turn hostile after his departure, as Shin heard from Schnee. Shin thus wasn’t sure it was a good idea to send him as a messenger, but both Shibaid and Schnee assured him that the empire didn’t actually consider them to be enemies.

“Hmm, by the way, how much do you know about Kilmont, Shin?”

On the path to Kilmont, this topic came up in the conversation between Shin and Shibaid.

“All I know is from documents I read in Falnido or what I heard while traveling, but I know that the empire acts as a breakwater against the monsters coming from the Sacred Place. Like I said before, I’ve never been there, though.”

“Your understanding is correct. The method they use is to build forts at fixed intervals between the capital and the Sacred Place. Troops stationed in the forts communicate regularly and cull the monsters. Monsters have a tendency to avoid the forts and move inland, so the remaining monsters are dispatched by mobile units. They cannot stop them completely, like in Balmel, however.”

The terrain grew thinner from the empire towards the Sacred Place, apparently as a consequence of the crustal movements.

Monsters spawned in the Sacred Place spread in all directions, so it wasn’t possible to eliminate every single one.

If the number of spawned monsters was low they attempted to eliminate them all, but when there were many, the stronger monsters or the ones with higher mobility were prioritized.

“One more thing, the empire also receives reinforcements from the alliance and the church. The scale of the conflict is different, so there are more people than the Balmel battle you participated in, Shin.”

Like what happened in Balmel, if Kilmont fell the hordes of monsters spawned from the ‘flood’ would scatter throughout the continent.

Considering the size of the continent, the number of monsters that spread through it could not be too high, but for the people living there, it was definitely a serious problem.

Animals other than human beings would suffer grave casualties as well, and, if nothing was done about them, the continent would become a den of mindless beasts.

For this reason, military aid to the empire was never neglected, barring emergency situations.

“I guess there are a lot of Chosen Ones too, then. Or rather, it would be dangerous if there weren’t many.”

Average soldiers could maybe deal with monsters around level 200, but if they started nearing 300, there was little the average soldier could do.

That was exactly what happened in Balmel, but Shin thought the empire housed greater numbers of Chosen Ones. He might even meet people he knew.

“I don’t know if you are acquainted with them, but there are a few former players as well. Do you want to meet them?”

“If we have the chance, sure. Considering how many players there were in total, chances are I don’t know them, though.”

Having met Hibineko, Holly, and Shadow in Balmel had been a truly rare event.

“…or maybe not…?”

Could it be that the players who were transported to this world shared a connection with him?

The possibility had crossed Shin’s mind before.

Not only the three former players in Balmel, but all former players he met until now were people he knew.

Milt, who he met during the Holy Woman kidnapping incident. Hameln, who used an evil tag on Schnee, and Hilamee and Masakado in Erkunt.

Thinking about them, Shin started wondering if his theory was actually true. He had met too many people he knew, after all.

There were also players he didn’t know, such as the one who was transformed into a monster in the latest incident. Shin thought that there might be other conditions involved.

“Is there something on your mind?”

“Yeah, actually.”

Shin told Shibaid about the common thread among the players he met.

“Hmm, one of the player killers Schnee investigated, was it. Most of them were related to you somehow, weren’t they?”

“I wonder…you could say they were related, but at that time Shin simply cut down any and all player killers he found. Thinking about it now, they did not have a close relationship with Shin, unlike Holly or Shadow, they simply happened to meet.”

Schnee answered Shibaid’s question after reflecting for a short while.

Shin had already seen the player killer list Schnee had compiled.

Some of them he remembered, others did not stir any recollection from him. He cut down PKs in the same way as he did with monsters, so he did not care too much to remember each of their names.

According to the moral standards of his former world, it was a very dangerous way of thinking.

In the game world, however, where there were no police, no organizations to maintain public order, so there was no other way.

Shin was convinced of this even now. In 【THE NEW GATE】’s game era real-world laws were meaningless.

“Is that so important?”

Tiera, who had been listening, joined in the conversation.

“It’s not like I want to to find every last one of them, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned.”

“But it’s not like you chose those… ‘players’ yourself, right? So I don’t think you should worry about them…”

What Shin did, regardless of whether it was right or wrong, was still within the bounds of how the game operated.

Things you could do and things it was OK to do were certainly different, but in the game defeating PKs did not have any penalties. Naturally, it was impossible to somehow purposefully send an opponent into another world such as the game world.

In that sense, what Tiera said was right. Shin hadn’t sent them to this world himself, nor did he even think that was possible.

“I guess you’re right, but…”

“While listening to you, I got the feeling that you were the one dragged into it instead.”

“I was dragged into it?”

The comment came from Filma, so Shin turned towards her.

“I mean, it’s not like you were supposed to come here in the first place, right?”

“That’s—”

Filma and Sety had joined the party relatively recently, so Shin hadn’t yet told them how he had come to this world. Schnee had probably informed them.

As far as he knew, the only people he knew that came to this world were players who died during the death game. Shin was the only exception.

Filma’s comment might not be far from the truth.

“It’s not like our present situation is going to change anyway, so it’s pointless to think about the issue any longer if you ask me. Let’s talk about something more constructive instead.”

Shin agreed with Filma’s conclusion and stopped thinking about things he couldn’t figure out.

Even if he dragged others into this world, or was dragged into it, the present was not going to change.

“So, what’s this constructive topic of yours?”

Shin bounced the ball back to Filma.

“The design of the ring you are planning, of course.”

“Wait a second, I only told Schnee about that, why do you—”

Shin turned towards Schnee, who was looking outside the horse carriage. The bright red color of her ears clearly explained what happened.

“She let it slip while telling me about your lovey-dovey days, you see.”

“Are you sure you didn’t make her slip yourself?”

“Oh my, how could I ever do such a thing?”

Shin glared at Filma, who looked away from him immediately.

Seeing her poke her tongue out playfully, Shin realized he had guessed right.

Next to Filma, Sety had the same expression on her face. They had ganged up on Schnee and forced her to sing, apparently.

“Sheesh..it’s not like it was an absolute secret, but…”

“She was so happy with you, that she slipped a bit, that’s all— ”

“Big sis Schnee got so chatty when she started talking about it— ”

Filma and Sety looked at Schnee as if they were real sisters.

Schnee was usually quiet, but not laconic. Shin knew that she actually talked a lot to people she trusted. To Filma and Sety, even more so.

“I must know more about that matter.”

“You too, Shibaid…?”

Shibaid joined in the conversation, intrigued by a topic completely new to him. His dragon-like face made it hard to tell, but his lips were definitely curved into a grin.

“Of course, I will tell you all about it, even the tiniest detail.”

“Wonderful. I cannot join in your ladies’ talk, after all.”

Shibaid nodded to Filma’s answer, very satisfied.

Schnee, still looking at the scenery, seemed to be shaking — but it definitely wasn’t because of the road. Her ears, even redder than before, proved it.

“You can ask me about it too, Shibaid, you know…”

“Oh no Shin, I would much prefer to hear everything from Schnee.”

Living alone with Shin was something Schnee had desired for the longest time. As a support character like her and her comrade, Shibaid surely preferred to hear her talk.

“You guys…”

For Schnee, this conversation was nothing but embarrassing, but she had no way to escape as long as they were traveling in the carriage.

Tiera, who had stayed out of the conversation, was conflicted as to whether she wanted to hear more about it or not, and simply looked at Filma and the others.

Yuzuha was on Schnee’s lap and looked up, as if peeking at Schnee’s face, but Shin didn’t know what she wanted to do.

Shin’s party thus spent a peaceful journey towards Kilmont: they arrived at their destination after a few days.

Because of the monsters, it wasn’t strange for the borders between countries to be unclear. In Falnido and Kilmont’s case, the border area was managed jointly by the two countries.

The actual reason was that no towns or villages were built in that area, in order to use it to gather the monsters spawned during the ‘flood’, so they decided to govern the area in such a manner, as Shibaid explained to Shin.

Maybe because the area was used to channel monsters inside, there were large quantities of them everywhere.

Extermination priority was given to the monsters heading towards Kilmont, for matters of protection, so the monsters tended to move towards the alliance.

Falnido was aware of this and sent troops to the area, who cooperated with Kilmont’s troops to exterminate the monsters.

“If only there weren’t so many monsters, you could build towns here. It’s not an incredibly rich area, but the soil is very fertile.”

Apparently, they had inspected the terrain too. There was a small settlement near the fort used for defensive maneuvers.

From the countries’ standpoint, building an unauthorized settlement was surely a problem, but, because of the nature of the area and the small scope of the settlement, they turned a blind eye to it.

As it was unauthorized, there would be no compensation even if they suffered monster casualties.

“Without the ‘flood’, this area would have developed as a center for trade and communication between the two countries.”

It took one whole month to go from Falnido to Kilmont, even by driving a horse carriage in a straight line. Any travelers between the two countries would need to stop at the various settlements along the way during the trip, so it actually took more time. These settlements were authorized, however.

“Hm? What’s that?”

Shin and the others were thus chatting as they advanced towards Kilmont, when they spotted a group of horseback knights ahead of them.

They were 24 in total: the knight in the lead was carrying Kilmont’s flag, if Shin’s memory served him.

The knights motioned at the horse carriage to stop, so Shin complied. Two knights left the group and approached the carriage.

“We are the 12th knight division of the Kilmont empire. I am Raekker, the captain. Are you headed towards Kilmont?”

“Yes, that’s right. Do you have business with us?”

The knight who spoke first had flaming red hair and sparkling armor. There was one more knight behind him, wearing the same armor and a helmet.

The knights did not seem to bear hostility or ill will, so Shin and the others decided to act like they were normal adventurers.

“So you came from Falnido…that is why you do not know about the ‘flood’, then. Most of the monsters have already been exterminated, but some managed to flee in this direction, according to the reports. Our forces are fully concentrated on locating and exterminating them, but the area cannot be said to be safe yet. If you will proceed, please exercise the utmost caution. That is all, thank you for your time.”

“No, we are thankful for your warning.”

The knights immediately left, quickly disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

They were warning all travelers and merchants they found about the remaining danger, telling them to flee or ask nearby knights for help if necessary.

Their attitude was extremely polite, without the slightest sign of intimidation.

Shibaid said that they were one of the divisions posted in the border forts.

“Look, over there.”

A short time after the meeting with the knights, Shin’s party came in view of the fort. It had been built in a location surrounded by plains, to make it easy to scan the surroundings.

The fort gates were wide open, as files of troops were coming out of it.

“Reinforcements to deal with the ‘flood’? Maybe the fighting hasn’t ended yet.”

“According to the knights, they are dealing with the remnants now, but…there might have been extensive casualties.”

Schnee answered Shin’s question with a worried tone.

There were provision units among the troops heading west, and the number of soldiers was high, so her hypothesis sounded convincing.

“That standard’s emblem belongs to the 3rd royal knights division. They are elites who are only deployed when monsters over level 500 appear. That could be one of the survivors the knights talked about.”

Shibaid explained that it was a special division formed by Chosen Ones and high-level knights. It had been deployed a number of times in the past as well.

“Do they act outside of emergencies?”

“Indeed. They have been deployed on several occasions during my time as well. The situation is without a doubt risky, but it might not be an emergency.”

Shibaid added that if it wasn’t like that, the empire could barely continue functioning as a country.

“The situation must be dire, however. It might take some time before we can have an audience with the Emperor.”

Shin nodded to Shibaid’s whisper while looking at the soldiers’ advance.

 

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