「That’s Rufeus? It’s a lovely city isn’t it?」
The moment she saw the city of Rufeus appear on the opposite side of the river, Haruna let out a voice of admiration. This city, which was built along the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Luder, and the rivers running from it, appeared to have a beautiful splendor to it.
「As one would expect of the capital of sages, it’s quite clean.」
Makoto, in the driver’s seat, shared Haruna’s sentiment. Maybe this was only true for the side visible from the river, but either way, you could see several buildings lined up in an organized manner, clearly having care put into them to give off a dainty appearance.
Five days since leaving Stiren, and two days and a half since crossing the border to Lorren. Taking a detour through the mountains and producing through grasslands and breadbaskets, the group had at last reached the region one might call the center of Lorren.
「Wulls was also a pretty town, but I guess Rufeus is more on the elegant side？」
「Yeah, plus Wulls had quite the difference depending on the section you were in.」
Makoto responded to Haruna’s impression with her own thought. Just as Makoto said, there was quite a difference in both the townscape and the atmosphere between the castle, the upper echelons of society, the bourgeoisie, the harbor, the section with many adventurers going to and fro, and all the other sections of town. The thing they all shared was having a liveliness. Even the upper echelons of society in Wulls had a certain liveliness to them, even if they were still regal and quiet. You could feel it.
Nevertheless, this was just when you compared it with Wulls, and it wasn’t like Rufeus had a melancholy to it or anything. While you didn’t feel the kind of power oozing from it like Wulls, Rufeus had many scholars and young students, creating its own tranquil dynamism formed by intellectual passion, spreading from corner to corner of this town. There was no coldness there, but admittedly an atmosphere that naturally made you want to straighten your collar.
「Looks like there’s an inspection to enter town once we cross that bridge and join up with that highway.」
Everyone focused on the bridge that Makoto pointed out. While not as impressive as the one suspended over Sharne River, this bridge was nevertheless quite splendid, with a wide berth between its girders for fairly big ships to pass through, more than enough to help you understand the sheer quantity of traffic via the river. Then again, the bridge itself had quite the scale, and the bridge’s traffic volume was about the same in that regard. This wasn’t even the peak time of early morning or evening, and yet there were plenty of horses and carriages passing through, lending more credibility to this assumption.
The bridge not being immediately connected to the entrance to Rufeus was probably just an issue of convenience and cost. Carriages with urgent deliveries constantly going through inspection before cutting through would be no good. There weren’t too many people out there who would pass through Rufeus, but there were still a considerable amount of carriages via land with urgent goods that couldn’t just be ignored.
Even regarding the cost, directly connecting Refeus via bridge would mean setting it up where the river’s width abruptly increased, the equilibrium between that and the lake shifting and making things more puzzling, which also meant that not just the bridge construction and maintenance, but the management side of things as well would have unnecessary labor and costs. There wasn’t any particular issue with gathering near the entrance connecting to the highway, so in a sense it was to be expected that they would place the bridge in an area both easy to build it and manage it.
「Come to think of it, there weren’t any towns on this side of the bridge, y’all.」
「Maybe it’s just because there’s not much profit over here？」
「I really do wonder. Just feels like they woulda build a town over here too when they set up the bridge……」
Hiroshi cocked his head at Tatsuya’s opinion. In actuality, the reason for this was due to large scale monster invasions that occurred frequently on this side of the river, forcing the residents here to seek refuge in Rufeus, simply migrating there and not returning. However, this kind of local history, while more prevalent in Rufeus, was difficult to investigate in other regions, not to mention that the towns formerly on this side of the river had been destroyed for more than a thousand years, with not a single trace of the previous town in sight, so it was impossible for Hiroshi and the others to be able to discern this fact.
「Sensei, I think you would know the answer to that question if you just asked someone in town.」
「Yup. Someone prolly knows.」
「More importantly, since this is the capital of sages, there should be some tasty food here.」
「Yer always thinkin’ about food, Mio……」
「Every time we go to a new location, you magically modify the local food just because you don’t like it, so I really don’t need to hear that from you or the others.」
Hiroshi commented on how much Mio talked about food, but then she cut him down savagely with a fierce rebuttal. And truth be told, Hiroshi and Haruna had no right to say anything regarding Mio’s gluttony.
「They said this was the world’s largest lake, but this kind of scale is comparable to the ocean, y’know……」
「And supposedly you can easily catch fish over a meter tall here. The aquaculture here at the lake is a crucial industry, they said.」
Tatsuya marveled at the size of the lake as they began crossing the bridge, while Haruna added a supplemental explanation. Haruna had apparently researched the area beforehand this time. Tatsuya, who had not researched much other than the library and sage academy, nodded his head in understanding.
Digressing a bit, Lake Luder’s area was about 500,000 square kilometers. Large rivers either flowed in from every direction or streamed out to the ocean, making this a freshwater lake, but if Daljan hadn’t insisted that this was a lake it could have very well been called Luder Sea.
「So what do they do for salt over here？」
「I’m told there’s a pretty big salt lake about two days away by horseback. Also, you can get rock salt there too, so no one in this area is inconvenienced in any way.」
Salt, something indispensable to human life. From time to time it was even a strategic resource, and every country had a fair amount of ways to procure it.
「Almost at the gate check.」
As everyone gave their insight on the town, the lake, and the surrounding regions, the group had finally caught up to the end of the line to get into town. Then again, this held the same for practically any other town. Assuming you didn’t try to bring in anything questionable, all you did was pay a tax to get in.
「Welcome to Rufeus.」
It was finally Hiroshi’s group’s turn, and they were greeted in a friendly manner by a beaming female gatekeeper, the one in charge for this particular section. The other gatekeepers overseeing the other lines were also overall smiling and friendly. They probably had many visitors from other countries with frequent dealings. This largely resembled Wulls in that aspect.
Darl and Forre’s gatekeepers never were this friendly, even at the capitals. This was not to say they were arrogant, but that they were strict on the rules, with absolutely no gatekeepers behaving as haughty or oppressing as every city in Midas Federation did.
「Are you adventurers？」
「Yes. We aren’t very high up in rank though.」
「You have a golem-drawn vehicle and your rank isn’t that high, huh？」
「One of our friends made it themself.」
Answering the questions the amicable woman asked them, everyone got out of the carriage and presented their adventurer cards. Looking at the cards and appearing to be wide-eyed for a moment, the woman quickly returned to normal and finished the counterfeit check before returning the cards.