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Chapter: 12.1


Act 1-12.1 : Goddess’ Country

The majority of Vandohl’s land consisted of vast plains as its topography.

With no shade available as protection from the blazing sun, it was a rarely frequented place by goblins. A goblin appearing in these plains was a near impossible occurrence. However, despite the fact that Vandohl’s location was a natural goblin repellent, humans had no intention whatsoever to live in it either—the land was not a suitable living place even with the construction of human structures and the creation of artificial shade.

Vandohl’s land was surrounded by threats all around: in the marshland adjacent to Azmid inlet, Lizardmen and Frogmen’s abodes could be found, and relatively close by, kinsman of fanged and hoofed creatures such as Werewolves, Satyrs and Centaurs resided in settlements.

These were all races hostile towards the weaker human race, and it was for this reason that the humans who lived in the Vandohl plains had never encountered a peaceful day and were met with an uncertain life loomed by death.

Yet, despite the vast fields’ uninhabitable state, towards its southeast, one would encounter a certain thriving country that has existed for generations—the Holy Republic of Lenaria.

The Holy Republic of Lenaria was the Goddess of Wisdom and Victory’s headquarters where Rena’s religion resided. It was considered one of the largest countries in this world even amongst its counterparts.

Other than being a religious nation, it was also a military state, reflecting the importance of the Goddess of War to the country’s leaders. As such, over thousands of powerful temple knights as well as heavily armored citizen formed units could be found, which made the country all the more powerful and amongst the mightiest in this world.

The country also hosted hundreds of thousands of citizens, all scattered amongst the several satellite city-states; however, the central capital Lenaria still boasted the most numbers as it remained the most populated city-state with around a hundred thousand civilians dwelling in it. These extraordinary numbers of course did not include the unofficial citizens that roamed the country without any proof of citizenship as, if one counted these civilians as well, the number of citizens would exponentially rise once more.

In accordance to its name, the Holy Republic of Lenaria wasn’t a monarchy, rather a republic ruled by a consul elected once every four years.

However, unlike other republics, the consul was not directly chosen by the citizens through the common practice of a voting system; rather, citizens would submit a list of candidates to Arlena’s religious organization and the organization would subsequently choose only one from amongst the myriad of candidates, most probably, the one aligning with their beliefs.

Moreover, not only did they have the final say in the choosing of a consul, but they also had the power to veto against any of the policies created and presented by the congress of citizens and consul. From this obvious power structure, one could then conclude that this country’s government could not ignore the organisation’s will and thus leading to the fact that the true ruler was none other than Arlena’s religious organization.

The temple in the Holy Republic of Lenaria served as the holy ground to Arlena’s faith and as such was a pilgrimage destination frequented by the Goddess Arlena’s believers. Moreover, the temple’s popularity along with the country’s status as a wealthy nation served as a catalyst to turning it into a tourist destination thus boosting the number of visitors with each passing day.

As such, Kuroki entered the country disguised as an ordinary visitor.

「This is the Holy Republic of Lenaria, Kuro. We can’t enter the rampart, but the outer town is quite lively too.」

Kuroki was currently strolling through the area outside of the rampart with his guide Dozumi.

(As I thought, he really doesn’t have the Holy Republic of Lenaria’s citizenship, huh… Well it’s still within my prediction.)

Upon finding out Dozumi’s lack of an official citizenship, disappointment filled Kuroki’s heart. He had wished for his guide to hold an official citizenship as it would simplify the matter of lodgings and would allow him to enter the inner city and rent a place at a proper inn.

The reason why Kuroki preferred to rent a lodging inside the rampart was none other than due to the fact that he had already experienced living in a hostel situated in the outer city and had witnessed several cases where the inn’s owner would rob their own guests. Thus, Kuroki wanted to avoid this bothersome situation as much as possible.

Moreover, areas outside the country’s rampart were always neglected by the nation. Unlike the inner city, in outer cities one would stumble upon rundown buildings, dirty alleyways, and unpaved roads; and this country was no exception. As he continued to stroll around, Kuroki could spot many small puddles along the unpaved streets due to yesterday’s rain. However, these issues could not hide the fact that this state was well off. As he observed his surroundings and mused about the upscaleness of this particular outer city, Kuroki did not forget to mention this fact to Nut, who was idly sitting on his shoulder.

「It’s far more beautiful than the other outer city we saw before, right Nut?」

「Is that so? I never really noticed since it widely differs from what I consider to be a beautiful nest.」

Nut tilted his head quizzically and then restlessly looked around, trying to spot the grandeur Kuroki mentioned.

It was not their first time coming to an outer city.

An outer city was a city constructed right outside of a country’s rampart.

Ramparts are indispensable elements for any country in this world. In the wilderness, numerous demons run rampant, which poses a threat to the weaker humans. Thus, countries build these ramparts as shields of protection towards any danger humans may face. However, this does not remove the reality that ramparts also limit the humans that live within it. It was for this reason that relatively safe countries decided to build cities outside of their ramparts, also known as outer cities, where the more daring individuals dwelled.

Outer cities are normally only seen in large countries such as the Holy Republic of Lenaria, and since they are situated outside the rampart, people don’t need any sort of proof of citizenship to enter. That’s why even a citizenless person like Kuroki could go in and out of the city as much as he wanted without facing any obstacles. Even so, this freedom still came with its drawbacks in the form of demon raids. Outer cities were more prone to pillagings and massacres performed by the demon race.

Nevertheless, it was not like stateless people had any other choice but to live in outer cities, as the majority of them were either citizens of a fallen nation, or far worse—wanted criminals. But, this state of things did not apply to all stateless individuals.

In every country, one would always find proper law abiding citizens who would choose to live in harmony while fulfilling their duties. Therefore, naturally, when those honest citizens are met with a calamity such as the ruin of their country, allied nations have the duty to protect and accept them as their own official citizens. This procedure however only applies to civilians who once owned a citizenship

And as things proceed as such, many unluckier unofficial citizens find themselves thrown into the countries’ slums in the form of outer cities. With no form of stability, and the mingling of both once upright and wanted criminals, a lawless land was thus created rendering public order in a considerably bad state in these neglected towns.

(But then, unlike the other outer city I encountered so far, it seems that the Holy Republic of Lenaria also cares about the public order of its outer city.)

Kuroki was rather intrigued with the reason for them to do so and started pondering about the matter, failing to notice Dozumi’s stare for a while. It was only after feeling a prolonged gaze did he notice Dozumi’s hesitant look.

「Is something the matter, Dozumi?」

「No, it’s just… I think I saw a rat getting on top of your shoulder. Well, my eyes might be tricking me.」

Dozumi smiled as he responded to Kuroki.

In fact, Dozumi could only hear Nut’s squeaking sound. Nut, like others in his race, didn’t speak the human tongue, but rather the Fire Rat’s language. Although humans could only hear a squeaking sound when Fire Rats spoke, their language was in fact an advanced one, developed through generations. Only someone with the ability to wield passive communication magic could understand their words. The prime example of such a phenomenon was Kuroki and his conversations with Nut.

However, since Dozumi did not wield such magic, when Kuroki and Nut’s conversations were accidently spotted by him, all Dozumi could see was his savior talking to himself.

「Ahahaha. Well, I tend to talk to myself since I’m traveling all alone. It’s a strange habit I picked up to relieve my boredom.」「Hahaha, I see, that’s a strange habit indeed.」

Dozumi laughed at Kuroki again.

(Oh crap! Now he sees me as a strange person!)

Nut, along with his race, would rarely show themselves in this corner of the world as they, like demons and goblins, were hated by humans and Rena’s followers.As such, Nut had minimised his presence as much as possible once they had approached the Holy Republic of Lenaria for fear of standing out as he was both a Fire Rat hated by humans and spoke the human tongue fluently. It would be really troublesome for Kuroki—who came to investigate Reiji and his companions’ situation—if he stood out and was spotted by his enemies due to Nut’s presence; Kuroki couldn’t afford such trouble. Both Kuroki and Nut briefly glanced at each other, their eyes showing tacit agreement in treading more carefully when conversing.

「Come to think of it, where are we heading for, Dozumi-san?」「Ah, over there. We’re heading towards the Freedom Fighter Association, Kuro-san. You’ve come here to become a Freedom Fighter in the Holy Republic of Lenaria, right?」

Kuroki then recalled that he did say something like that to Dozumi.

「You’re right but… Why the Freedom Fighter Association? It’s not like I have a citizenship.」

Except for the Magician Association, normally, only official citizens could become members of associations or unions. Therefore, for Kuroki who was but a stateless visitor to the Holy Republic of Lenaria, joining an association was impossible, which was why his belief of not being able to become a member of the Freedom Fighter Association was not without reason. Completing the commission aside, he shouldn’t be able to become a Freedom Fighter for this country unless he had an official citizenship.After hearing Kuroki’s statement, Dozumi showed a surprised look.

「The heck you’re talking about, Kuro. It’s not just official citizens, anyone can join the Holy Republic of Lenaria’s Freedom Fighter Association. Isn’t that your main reason for coming to this country?」

Dozumi then started explaining the matter to Kuroki.

Arlena, The Goddess of Wisdom and Victory was considered the warriors’ Guardian Deity. It was for this specific reason that Arlena’s faith, which ruled this country, allowed everyone to join the Freedom Fighter Association, for as long as they were warriors who fought and dedicated their lives for the cause, protecting humans from demons, they were welcomed within the faction.

Furthermore, following Arlena’s cause came with various benefits. Warriors who joined the association would gain the benefit of being protected by the law, regardless of them having the Holy Republic of Lenaria’s citizenship or not. It was a give and take transaction: stateless Freedom Fighters protecting common citizens and in turn, gaining the government’s protection of their properties and human rights.

Those two points were greatly appreciated by anyone without citizenship.

It was only now that Kuroki understood why this outer city’s public order was so good. It was natural for an otherwise lawless place to be this upright if even the non-citizens were protected by the law. In comparison, outer cities in other countries were filled to the brim with crime.

What was even more outstanding for these warriors was the fact that once they joined the association, they could fight and live anywhere. The Holy Republic of Lenaria would allow them to fight for the holy land, but would also dispatch them to other smaller countries as well. Though these small countries had limited living space, they were more than willing to accept the warriors dispatched by the Holy Republic of Lenaria. This situation was perfect for the more adventurous warriors who dreamed of roaming the mountains and plains. Furthermore, living in smaller countries would entail reduced living expenses, which was an incredible attraction for the more poorer fighters.

It was due to all of these reasons that Dozumi confidently stated the impossibility of a Freedom Fighter refusing to join the Freedom Fighter Association in the Holy Republic of Lenaria, including the "Freedom Fighter" Kuroki.

「Ahahaha, of course I know about that, but I thought it was too good to be true.」

""

Kuroki tried to smooth things over and eliminate any unwanted suspicions with a hearty laugh.Even though he had received geographical knowledge about this region from Nut, he was severely lacking in this world’s common sense and human relations customs. This was the main reason why he himself was lacking in this area and would sometimes say the wrong things and fall into cultural traps.

「Is that so? This matter should be well known in the neighbouring countries. Are you by any chance coming from a really far place?」

Dozumi tilted his head as he asked.

「Yeah! I came from a faraway country, north of this place!」

Kuroki mixed some truth with lies, trying to make himself as believable as possible.

「Wow. Could it be that you have some sort of special cir— Ah, please forget about it.」

Dozumi didn’t try to dig any further. This understanding gesture alone elevated Kuroki’s impression of him.

They continued their conversation while walking toward the Freedom Fighter Association and soon enough, they arrived in front of the most splendid building in the outer city.

Though the majority of buildings in the outer city looked more like crudely made wooden-huts, this building was the only one made of stone.

「Dozumi-san, is this the Freedom Fighter Association?」「Yeah, not the headquarters though. The headquarters are located inside the rampart. The one here is a branch office. Anyway, let’s get going.」

Kuroki followed after Dozumi as he entered the building first. However, as they stepped into the building, a bulky man as big as a bear stopped them from walking in any further. Both Dozumi and Kuroki had to raise their heads in order to see his scarred face. As the man opened his mouth, a grating gruff voice sounded within their ears.

「What’s the matter? Did you guys come to register yourselves as Freedom Fighters?」

「Yes. This man behind me, Kuro, wants to register himself as a Freedom Fighter, master.」

「Hou, I see. You may pass, but mark my words, I won’t show any mercy if you make a ruckus inside.」

The big man let them in after he gave them a stern warning.

「Quite a scary person, isn’t he?」「Yeah, apparently he is a powerful warrior who was hired to protect this branch office, so we better not go against him.」

As they whispered to each other, they went straight in and headed towards the reception area. There, a receptionist was sitting on his desk, working diligently as he sported a cold facade. Once he heard footsteps approaching him, the man raised his head and looked towards Kuroki and his companion, disappointment glaringly rising on his face. Kuroki was also observing the receptionist as he reached closer to the reception’s desk. He noticed that the receptionist’s frame was far smaller and thinner than the big warrior acting as a guard at the entrance. He didn’t seem like a warrior at all. However, this did not diminish the arrogant and disdainful aura he was directing at them.

「You want to register?」

The man asked with a pompous voice.He was clearly looking down on them. This situation made Kuroki suddenly recall having experienced this pattern of conversation before. As he mused over the matter, he recalled his dealings with several other people he encountered.

(His tone… is just like the gatekeepers I tried to talk to in several other countries.)

It was the same kind of pattern government officials used when talking to stateless people. Visitors without citizenships would always face looks of disdain and arrogant, hurtful words from these officials, and it seemed that this male receptionist wasn’t any better. After observing him for a while, Kuroki instantly deduced the receptionist’s thoughts—that him and Dozumi were here to take advantage of the Holy Republic of Lenaria’s benefits, making use of their grace. Thus, the receptionist felt there was no need to respect or get along with them who were clearly stateless people.

「Yes, master. This is Kuro, he wishes to join the association.」

Dozumi showed a humble attitude despite the male receptionist’s arrogance. It seemed he understood the distribution of power within the faction and knew that he had a lower position than the male receptionist.

「Then read this document and sign it at the end.」

The official took out a piece of paper. Kuroki carefully observed the contract being handed to him and realised that there was no way for him to understand what was written on it—it was all written in an unknown language, looking like gibberish to him.

(What should I do now, I can’t read it at all…)

Cold sweat started trickling down Kuroki’s back. It hadn’t been that long since he was summoned to this world, so it was natural for him to not yet master their alphabet. Although he knew how to converse with the people of this world, reading and writing in their language was a different matter. Moreover, though deciphering magic existed for that reason, it was unfortunately not that useful on this very occasion. Deciphering magic only enabled him to read the letters, but it did not allow him to know the words’ meaning, thus the written words on the paper were nothing but alien language to him. He was thus left with no other choice but to return the contract and leave the building.

「What’s the matter? You can’t read it?」「Yes, I can’t read it at all.」

Kuroki bowed his head apologetically.

「Then you can forget about joining the association. Go join another warrior’s party.」

The male receptionist then snatched back the paper and shooed Kuroki as if he was driving away a dog. Kuroki couldn’t help but mumble to himself how rude the receptionist was. But, he had long gotten used to this kind of treatment as it was not a novel experience; he had experienced this as well when he was still in his original world.

Yes, he was used to it even if he actually couldn’t stomach such rudeness. But, if he lashes out his anger for such a trivial matter, trouble would just keep on following him in this country, which would go against his prior plans of not attracting any attention.

Kuroki eventually sighed in frustration and looked at Dozumi, signaling with his head that they should leave. Since both of them couldn’t do anything about the matter, Dozumi nodded in agreement and then, they both headed towards the exit. Once they were outside, Dozumi immediately started apologising to Kuroki.

「Sorry Kuro, even though I also can’t read like you… It seems that receptionist got the wrong impression due to your well groomed appearance.」

(So, he thought I was a high born, huh…)

Though it was normal for him—who was born in Japan which was famous for its high literacy rate—to be able to read and write, the literacy rate in this world was apparently quite low. The ones who could read and write were usually individuals with quite a high status.

Thus, Dozumi had mistaken Kuroki to be one of those people due to his well groomed appearance.


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