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Vol 6: Chapter 12 (2)

「The “Goddess” is probably the being who created the skill orbs.」his father said.

「…!?」

「Don’t go against it. If you go against it, this country will be easily destroyed. You can easily understand it by looking at the fellers who witnessed the “World Union” as a Pledger. Those guys are said to have been enthralled by the “Goddess”.」

「I have heard that too. The next Queen of Sylvis Kingdom, a territory under our direct control, seems to be spreading the “Goddess” faith. In the Kruvan Holy Kingdom, the predecessor King is in clash with the current Queen in regards to policies regarding the “Goddess”. The nobles are also split in two depending on which faction they belong to.」

「When I think about it now, I feel glad that neither I nor you were present at the place of “World Union”… but it’s frustrating not knowing what actually happened.」

「It is as you say, father.」

「Which means, what you should do right away is to get in touch with the Cardinal– former Cardinal Thomasson.」

「But he has already retired.」

「That old badger would not retire that easily even if he was baked or grilled. There is no way he would have left the Church during such a time.」

The crown prince was surprised. King Geffert rarely praises people. Just from hearing the King’s words, one might think it’s mockery, but from the crown prince’s perspective, it was close to “solid praise.”

「There must be some reason for his retirement, then. His Eminence either has some secret to protect or he stepped down because he was in conflict with the “Goddess”. If left alone, His Eminence could be in danger. I shall get in touch with him and provide appropriate protection.」

「Good. Get it done.」

King Geffert’s expression was difficult to read due to his old age, but it was clear that he was satisfied with the prince’s answer. However, a chill ran down the crown prince’s spine.

(Father, how far ahead are you seeing…)

If given a hint, the crown prince can think and act on his own. But how long would it take for him to get to that hint if his father was gone?

「Next, the dragon.」

「Dragon……?」

The story jumped again. The crown prince was confused.

「Do you know that there are other mediators besides the Pledgers?」

「Yes. They were in charge of preserving the Covenant?」

As a result of the revocation, even those who are not Pledgers can now obtain knowledge regarding the Covenant. The information was revealed and was passed on to the upper management of the nations.

However, the leaders of each country were more devoted to winning the battle with the monsters that appeared in front of them, instead of examining the value of the revoked Covenant.

「I’ve heard a lot about the Pledgers, but I don’t know where the mediators went.」the King said.

「Hmm, that is true. But, in the first place, we do not know much about the existence of dragons.」

「But they boasted a mighty power. Though I don’t know too much about it, the Vision Ogre probably does too. Find out what is the dragon’s relationship with the “Goddess” is now.」

「The dragon’s… relationship?」

「The look on your face suggests you don’t understand.」

「I apologize, father. I still can’t see as far as you do…」

「No, this is just a hunch of mine. If I was the king of another country, I would have forgotten about the dragon.」

「What are you saying?」

「There is a dragon in our country.」

The crown prince was taken aback.

「Achenbach Dukedom, “Sixth Mine”!」

The Sixth Mine is a mountain where the skill orbs have been depleted and its function as a dungeon has been lost. A gold dragon, which attacked the Ubermines capital and was subsequently subdued, used to live there. However, it was secretly reported that a new dragon had settled in the mine before the “World Union”.

「That’s right. Right now it’s an unmanned mine. But if a dragon is there, we can try to talk to it. Send some people.」

「Understood.」

The crown prince nodded.

(As expected, we still can’t afford to lose father as our leader…)

The dialogue between the father and son continued until late at night.

**

Speaking of the Sixth Mine in the Achenbach Dukedom, it used to thrive with miners.

Now, however, the place was quiet. The mining town at the foot of the mountain was destroyed by the dragon’s rampage, and now there was only one hut for liaisons from the Ubermines city to monitor the mine.

「-No one would ever believe that this place used to be crowded. What’s left now is just a pile of debris. All the valuable things have been taken away too… The only good thing about this place is that there are no monsters here, I guess.」

「There are now unidentified ferocious and brutal monsters everywhere. But the mountains are keeping the monsters out of this place.」

「Nah, it’s because there isn’t any food here. Nothing will grow in such a cold place.」

「Maybe so.」

Two soldiers, serving as the only liaison officers, were talking and laughing.

「……Is that so?」

A reply came from a girl. Her long blonde hair was tied behind. Her big purple eyes and long eyelashes made her seem like a girl who would grow into a beautiful woman in the future, but her traveler’s attire also made her look somewhat neutral.

「Well, you can continue on your journey after getting yourself warm.」

「Thank you.」

The girl — Lark accepted the mug that was presented to her. It was plain hot water, but it was heaven-sent in the present season which was heading into winter.

The hot water was hot enough to burn the tongue, but simply holding the mug warmed Lark’s body.

「So, you came here to hold a memorial service for your late dad? It was unfortunate that your father was here during the mine riot. Many adventurers died during that period. But the number of soldiers who died was much more…」

「……Yes.」

「You better reach there as soon as you can. The days are getting shorter with each passing day.」

「I will.」

Lark thanked the soldier for the hot water, and left the hut.

「Don’t go inside the mine.」

「Okay.」

The soldiers probably had a lot of free time, as they came out of the hut and sent Lark off.

Lark set off from the city of debris.

A gentle slope that stretched straight to the mine cuts through the coniferous forest.

My father, who used to be an adventurer, died here during the mine riot… Using such a lie, Lark walked towards the Sixth Mine.

The sky pirates who accompanied her were staying in another town.

They wanted to follow Lark, but she refused them.

She didn’t feel like doing anything here. She simply wanted to visit this place once more.

(There is almost nothing I can do anymore.)

During her travels, she heard that the world has changed drastically.

However, what Lark should do was apologize to those who lost their lives in the mine riot.

In the territorial capital, Ubermines, there was a mutual aid society to support the families of the victims, so Lark donated money to it.

The adventurers seem to have been neglected because it was their own responsibility. So Lark tried to find those adventurer’s families, and chose the procedure to send money through the guild.

She visited a joint cemetery for the victims, but there were only articles left by the deceased. The actual bodies were given a simple burial at the mine.

Lark also wanted to meet the families of the bereaved and apologize, but was stopped by Kook.

——What will happen even if you go see them now? No one would even remember that there was a slave like you. The only thing you would do is make the families recall the incident and feel sad again. Even if an investigation is carried out and you were caught, you will only be sentenced to death as a fugitive slave. That being the case, it would be better for you to earn money and send it to the bereaved families.

Lark wasn’t convinced by what Kook said, but it made sense.

Therefore, she decided to go to the simple burial site in the mine. The last thing left to do.

From now on, she just has to send money to the Mutual Aid Society and the Adventurer’s Guild.

(Was this road always so long …)

The day when Lark escaped the mine, she walked down the road mindlessly.

In this city, which has now become a pile of rubble, the gatekeepers were fighting with other escaped slaves, so Lark used that gap to climb over the wall of the city and changed into some children’s clothing hung outside a nearby house. It may have been a charity as there was a board which said, “If you need it, please take it.” After hiding her hair with a hat, she looked like a poor child, but a poor child of the city.

(It’s cold …)

It was sunny on that day.

But dark clouds hung in the skies today. Freezing cold wind blew.

「Ah……」

As Lark walked out of the grove, a mountain stood towering in front of her.

The entrance had collapsed greatly. A number of huge rocks can be seen nearby.

It might be the first time she was seeing it from the outside.

The day she was brought in as a slave, she fell asleep on the carriage, and on the day she escaped, she didn’t look back because she thought she would see Reiji there.

「……Let’s go.」

Lark walked forth with resolute steps.

Sixth Mine——A mine that was once a place where you could mine skill orbs.

A strong wind blew, as if a giant creature had exhaled.

No, perhaps it really is someone’s breath.

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