Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
Declaration of War
Later that night, a knock came at Hikaru’s hotel room door. He already knew people were coming—and who they were—with his Mana Detection.
「You done talking with the guildmaster?」
「Yeah. Can we come in?」
Hikaru ushered Selyse and Selica into his room. They still wore their cloaks, which suggested they haven’t returned to their own room yet. Hikaru took the pot he boiled water in and made tea for them.
「Thank you. Zubura might be warmer than the rest of Forestia, but it still gets chilly at night.」Selyse said.
「I’m sober now!」Selica exclaimed.
「You were drinking?」Hikaru asked.
「I figured out not long after I arrived here that I can actually hold my liquor!」
Being only seventeen years old, she shouldn’t have been able to drink back in Japan. In this world, though, it was not strange for 17-year-olds to partake of alcohol.
「Where are Lavia and Paula?」
「Long day so they’re tired… They’re asleep.」
Lavia had better stamina now, but today she travelled a long way, fired spells, and made the long trip back.
「What about your other friends?」Hikaru asked.
「Sophie is also sleeping.」Selyse replied.「She’s too exhausted. Sarah’s with her.」
「You’re doing fine for someone who was dying.」
「I can’t rest when we have a dire situation in our hands.」
「So, what’s the word? You came here to fill me in, right?」
The guildmaster said Einbeast declared war on Ponsonia. After that, he took the Four Stars of the East to a different room. Two hours had passed since then, and it was already way past midnight.
「There’s some additional info.」Selyse took a sip of her tea and exhaled. 「Delicious.」
「Why, thank you.」
「Next time, I’d like to be the one serving you tea.」
「Selyse makes delicious tea!」
「Really, now? Okay sure, if we get the chance. So anyway, fill me in.」
「Einbeast really did declare war on Ponsonia. According to the notice sent from the central governments to the Adventurers Guild, they’ve notified the royal capital and the other nations—Quinbland, Forestia, Vireocean, and Bios—as well.」
Once a war started, the Adventurers Guild, which could be used as military force, would be notified. Adventurers ranked C and above were forbidden to enter countries at war.
「Is Einbeast taking advantage of Ponsonia’s internal strife to invade?」
「Essentially, yes. Though they’ve been holding a deep grudge against Ponsonia for a long time.」
「Einbeast is a country that welcomes any and every race, while Ponsonia is a kingdom built by humans for humans.」
「But there are dwarves, elves, and even demi-humans in Ponsonia.」
「Of course. But you’ll see when you go to Einbeast. Humans are only about half the population. Normally there’d be more.」
「Hmm. So you’re saying Ponsonia is persecuting nonhumans?」
「They might officially deny it, but yes. I heard the King of Einbeast himself had a taste of it in the past.」
「There are even shitty nobles who treat Beastmen like they’re not human!」
「I don’t know how else to describe them but shitty!」
Hikaru wasn’t aware of the whole story until now. Not to talk badly of the dead, but it sounds like the late King was really a good-for-nothing person.
「But the route Einbeast is taking to invade is quite strange.」
「That they’re going through the fortress city of Leather Elka?」
「Yeah. You think so too, right?」
「There are other borders they can cross, but they chose to attack the impregnable city where the Crown Prince is holed up. As to why, one reason I can think of is that Princess Kudyastoria led them to the city…」
Hikaru recalled the girl who watched the fight between him and Lawrence. She seemed to know Roland too. Could a reckless person like her really lure a foreign country like that?
「I thought about that too so I checked. It seems to be the other way around.」
「You mean Austrin led them there?」
Selyse nodded.「Einbeast is not attacking Leather Elka, but joining Austrin’s forces there.」
「So he invited in a country that holds a grudge against the kingdom? What is he thinking?」
「I don’t know. Maybe he has a profound reason for doing so, or perhaps he thinks he has no other choice. Or maybe he’s being deceived. But either way, the fact is he invited them in. Leather Elka’s Adventurers Guild sent notice that the Grand Chamberlain said there won’t be fighting in the city, so I think it’s true.」
Grand Chamberlain… The name nagged at the back of Hikaru’s mind. It might be his Instinct working.
「Anyway, Leather Elka is not that far from the royal capital. A fight will break in the outskirts of the capital between the Princess’s forces and the combined army of the Prince and Einbeast. That’s what the guild thinks will happen.」
「Wait a minute. A battle somewhere between the capital and Leather Elka?」
Selyse gave a nod. 「Yes. The capital’s satellite town, Pond, will become a warzone.」
The next day. Before taking breakfast, Hikaru called Lavia and Paula to his room to inform them about what Selyse said. She said the Four Stars would discuss things too. Since they were rank B adventurers from Ponsonia, they held some influence. While they did abandon the kingdom, the root of all evil, the previous king, was now dead. Selyse knew Kudyastoria to be a wise girl, and she had patrons in Ponsonia too. She couldn’t just ignore this current situation.
Lavia frowned, probably recalling the days she was locked up. Paula had a few thoughts as well, since it was in Pond where she took her first request as an adventurer.
「So I wanted us to discuss our next move.」
Hikaru might not have cared that much if the battleground was anywhere but Pond. It was the first town he arrived at after coming to this world, the place where he met Lavia, and other people as well.
Unken was no longer in the guild, but the receptionists Jill, Gloria, and Aurora were still there. The hotdog stand owner, the cat-eared lady at the hotel’s front desk, Dodorono, the dwarf who crafted his gear, the elf Leniwood, who forged the Dagger of Strength that he still used even now, the bear-like owner of Pasta Magic, and Katy’s brother Kelbeck.
People showed kindness to him. The young girl who told him the way to the guild, the man who sold him fried noodles even though his shop was closing, the gatekeeper who showed concern for his safety.
They were small bonds he made. Some people he didn’t even get to talk much with. But these bonds were proof that Hikaru was there, that he lived in that town.
Lavia suddenly chuckled.
「Hikaru. You already know what you want to do, right? You want to go. Your face says you want to at least make sure the people you know are safe.」
「But you only have bad memories in that place.」
「Don’t worry about it. It’s not like you’re going to the Morgstad residence. Besides, no one’s after me anymore. I’m worried too. It’s the town where I met you. The town where I walked around freely for the first time. I’ll be angry if they destroy the place.」
「Hikaru-sama! I met you in Pond too! So if you want to go there, I won’t say no!」
Pond had become a town of memories to him. More than he expected. When he left Ponsonia, he thought about not going back. It just goes to show that a new ruler on the throne could change circumstances this much.
「All right. Let’s go. And we gotta hurry. The battle might start before we even get there. Let’s think about our best course of action as we go.」
「Sounds good to me.」
「Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have breakfast. Oh, that reminds me.」
Hikaru smiled. I should bring garlic to Pasta Magic’s owner. The food there would change a lot for the better if they had garlic.