Still early the morning, Mira woke up in the room she was given in the castle.
She roused herself from the bed, checked her surroundings with sleepy eyes and “hm?”, tilted her head confused. She did not remember coming back to the room.
(“Hmm. I remember giving Solomon the documents and then going back inside the bath. And then… I found Eden…”)
After tracing her memory back to that point, Mira recalled everything and heaved a sigh - she fell asleep in the bath.
Which means I must have been carried in by the maids, she thought and when she got up while feeling gratitude...
“What in hell… is this?!”
Feeling something fluffy cover her entire body, Mira lowered her gaze to herself and found that she was wearing kigurumi-like bunny pajama. It was the sleepwear specially prepared for her by castle maids, which had once struck dread into her. In other words, maids did not stop at carrying her to the room.
Meaning that they used the fact Mira was unconscious to do with her as they pleased.
(“This castle is full of carnivores…!")
Those maids would stop at nothing. Feeling their determination, Mira trembled like a baby bunny.
From there, she put on the thoroughly-washed Magic Robe Set and quickly headed to the office.
When she opened the door, rich fragrance of black tea tingled her nose. She looked ahead and saw Solomon hold a teacup as he stared blankly at a mountain of documents.
“You look really sleepy today, mm?”
Mira said as she entered the office and sat in her usual spot.
“Well, yeah. Heck, I’m more surprised by how early you are up today, how rare.”
Solomon raised the corner of his mouth and glanced at Mira as she stretched grandly on the sofa.
“Looks like there’s a reason for that, huh? I think I can imagine what happened.”
Maids entered the bath right after Solomon left it, they must have spoken as they passed by each other. He made a knowing expression, sipped some of the tea and “want some?” he asked.
“So, was there any progress?”
Mira picked up a teacup from the table in front of the sofa and extended it to Solomon. He picked it up, poured black tea from the teapot and,
“Süleyman really did his best.”
he said as he passed the cup back to Mira.
“He doesn’t need to overwork himself like that…"
Learning that she was not able to secure as much free time as she predicted, Mira smiled wryly and sipped some tea.
“So, before we get to the main topic - could you take a look at this?”
As he said so, Solomon took out a piece of paper out of a drawer and passed it to Mira.
“This is...huh? A robot?”
The piece of paper seemed to be some kind of blueprint. Furthermore, the shape it took was close to that of a human.
“Well, you’re close. We’re actually developing it under the name “Prothean Doll”.”
“Hmm… Pro...thean Doll, mm?”
Muttering, Mira lowered her gaze to the piece of paper in front of her. Looking closely, she found that there were two types of blueprint there. Although their size and shape were nearly the same, the one on the right were more complicated on the inside by quite a bit.
“Oh and by the way, this one is called Stalwart Doll and its development was finished about five years ago.”
Solomon added a comment as he pointed his finger at the blueprint on the left.
“What, so this one’s a different thing huh.”
“Well, it’s a base form. See, this Stalwart Doll is an automata the Workers’ Union created with usage of top-level magic engineering technology. It’s used for working in dangerous places and when there isn’t enough workforce. Well, something like autonomous robots back in our original world.”
After explaining so far, “So the main issue, is this one.” Solomon said as he pointed at the Prothean Doll’s blueprint.
“Hmm, so this burly one, mm?”
Mira put the teacup on the tray the teapot was on before she returned her gaze to the blueprint.
“This one is a design based on Stalwart Doll that has been adjusted for combat.”
“Putting it into other use, huh. Well, in any case - what is the reason you explain this to me before getting to the main issue?”
If the issue lies in magic engineering, then it must be about her energy-eefining, Mira thought. But then, Solomon furrowed his eyebrows and heaved a sigh.
“Frankly speaking, the development of the Prothean Doll is stalled. See, every country is now in the middle of developing a combat version of the Stalwart Doll. In other words, just making a combat-capable version of it would mean we would lose to bigger countries in terms of mass production. The field we would gain the most in by doing that would be defending from monsters. But you know, that would make us known to be a country that’s satisfied by developing something any other country can develop. Which is why, as the Arkite Kingdom, we decided to give it additional value that feels like “us”.”
As a fact, in every country there were experiments for adjusting Stalwart Dolls to combat. They were developed as border patrol force and extra combat force for times of need. Furthermore, versions specialized in fighting against monsters were being developed and put into use.
“Hmmm… certainly, that is something anyone would think of doing. So, the reason you called me is related to this additional value. Do you want me to make something with energy-refining?”
Additional value. In other words, they wanted to add some kind of effect through energy-refining, is what Mira suspected. However, Solomon shook his head in denial.
“No, it’s not related to energy-refining. It’s just that near your next objective, there is the place where the thing we need can be gathered.”
As he said so, Solomon added a document with necessary materials written down. There were quite a few of them, and all of them were magic-tool related materials.
“This is confidential, a top secret at that. Prothean Doll we are developing in our country is being created with spellcasting in mind. We are at the final stage of it - we are making a mechanism for casting spells. But there, we hit a roadblock. Thanks to Luminaria’s help we managed to add a mechanism for casting spells, but we are unable to generate the crucial magic power. We tried lots of things which resulted in this list. Although most things were incapable of generating magic power, there were a few that gave a positive reaction.”
Solomon pointed at one place on the list.
The material listed there was “Sparkling Seed”, a special faintly-shining seed that could be sometimes found on trees all over the world. It was a material that had great compatibility with all types of spells and was used for making various magic tools. It was versatile and could serve as a replacement for several other materials.
“Sparkling Seeds, we confirmed that they generated the most magic power of them all. With that said, the power they generate is far from that of normal spells and far from being capable of actual use.”
After hearing this much, Mira’s brain connected several pieces of information. The most capable material among all that were used was the Sparkling Seed. In Mira’s mind appeared the name of a higher rank material of the same type.
It was called the “Origin Seed”. A precious material that could be collected only from the tree that was the origin of all trees in the world, the Tree of Origin - Great Gopher. While over a great long time trees had branched and changed their appearance, Origin Seeds born from them were a rare occurence of them returning to their original species.
Origin Seeds possessed the condensed power of the Origin Tree from before the trees weakened, and could be used for creating top-level magic tools.
“In other words, you want me to go and get some, mm?”
While saying so, Mira took out the permit pass for the forbidden area and put it on the office desk.
The Heavenly-Demon Maze “Primal Forest”. It meant that there was the forest of origin and just as the name suggested, there were ancient trees growing inside the maze. It was also where the Great Gopher Tree was.
“Pretty much. From here on you will need to move around a lot, so I thought you could pick some up while you’re near. Still, this time the objective area overlapped by pure chance.”
Solomon made a clearly joyful expression and put down another document.
“Good grief, just how much do you intend to use me, huh…? So, where should I go?”
Although she would need to take a big detour, the doll’s development issue was merely something she would do by the way as she searched for Soul Howl, her main objective. As such, Mira put this case in a corner of her mind as and glared at the document Solomon had newly added.
“According to documents, to acquire the Brilliant Chalice of Divine Decree, it’s necessary to repeat several highly-difficult procedures to create it. But it’s not the type where you gather materials and craft it, but more like a reward for a long-term quest.”
“Hooh… There were many theories surrounding the chalice, but it was a quest, huh.”
Back when it was still a game, there was an exchange of theories surrounding the Brilliant Chalice of Divine Decree. The most probable one was it being a reward for some kind of quest. And, that it would be more difficult than anything they have done before.
“To be precise… it’s slightly different from a pure quest.”
Solomon closed his eyes and put his words in order before he opened his mouth again.
“It appears that it’s an item whose method of acquiring can’t be categorized into either crafting, a quest, a drop, or gathering.”
In the end, what he said was not the location of the chalice, but words that accented the peculiarity of the process before he explained.
First, the Brilliant Chalice of Divine Decree was an item that could be created by going through many processes. However, it was not the type where materials and techniques were used for crafting, but one where the creator fulfilled multiple requirements to complete it.
Although many of requirements were yet to be decoded, they were able to understand the first part.
“So, what is this requirement you speak of?”
“The first requirement, is acquiring the material that becomes the foundation for the chalice. The requirement for this material is for it to be a root of a Sacred Tree at least three thousand years old. And speaking of the nearest Sacred Tree, or to be exact, the nearest one to the underground cemetery that Soul Howl was in…”
“The Elder of the Fayth Woods that’s above the Primal Forest… isn’t it.”
The Sacred Tree. It’s a general term for a tree that has been worshipped as a god and has become a special tree that gained divine power. There were several Sacred Trees on this continent that have lived for over three thousand years, however, if there was one near Soul Howl’s hideout in the underground cemetery then there was no need for him to travel far to find one. Normally, one would simply go to the Fayth Woods that is positioned in the Southwest of the Arkite Kingdom.
And near that, there is the Heavenly-Demon Maze Primal Forest. That was the reason for Solomon’s bright expression.
“That’s how it is. This is the first objective, although he probably isn’t there anymore, you might find some traces he left behind. There is a possibility that the Elder will tell you something. And, once you are there, the other one is a stone’s throw away, right?
“Well, I guess. Personally, if I came back and was told to go there again, I would protest saying “why didn’t you tell me back then?”.”
Pretty much convinced, Mira raised the teacup. And as she sipped the slightly cooled-down tea, rich taste and fragrance blew away her sleepiness.
“That’s how it is, it would be a lot of help if you brought back about ten of them for experiments and as substitutes.”
"...That’s one unreasonable request you make there, mm.”
Since they were still experimenting, Solomon proposed a number that would account for failures. However, it was a number that made Mira scowl and show a clearly displeased expression. It was no wonder since the Origin Seeds were very valuable when it was still a game, and even top players would have to prepare themselves to pay a big amount to use them as a material. Being told to get ten of them would make anyone show reluctant expression.
“Personally, I think that you can secure a good amount in there thanks to the fact it was classified as a forbidden area, and no people have been entering it. If it takes several days, I don’t mind if you bring just five back.”
“Good grief… Well, fine. Let’s try gathering as many as I can.”
Mira picked up the permit for the forbidden area that she left on the office desk and put it back inside her pouch, before answering while having gratitude for the high-performance outfit in mind as well.
“Thanks, it’s a great help.”
While thanking Mira, Solomon put ten Mithril Coins in front of Mira.
“This time’s funding. If there’s something you find you need along the way, you can use this to supply yourself. If you want, you can buy a new replica, too. Here in the capital, there are replicas not only of the Sage Robes but also other peculiar outfits you have been using before.”
Solomon smiled like a mischievous kid. Hearing these words, Mira finally realized what the smile Solomon made before meant when he said it looked good on her.
"...You knew and you kept silent, haven’t you.”
“A disciple imitating the master she admires. Isn’t that cute?”
“I have no need for such impression!”
The two started to quarrel and a game of tag around the table. The way they looked, was truly childish and just as their appearance suggested.
“By the way, here, souvenirs.”
After playing around for a bit, Mira took out Magic-Sealing Stones she brought from the tower and lined them on the table. There were nearly a hundred of them.
“Aww, thanks. With this many, we no longer have to worry. This really helps. I’d love to show my thanks, so, is there anything you want?”
While Solomon took out a bag and threw Magic-Sealing Stones inside, a cute ribbon could be seen tied on his head. It was the proof of Mira’s victory in the game of tag.
“I don’t really mind… but well…”
From Mira’s perspective, she only brought what her close friend needed. But if he wanted to give her something, there was no need to refuse. Thinking so, she immediately thought of a perfect thing.
“There’s this small carriage, the wagon thing that Cleos had Garuda carry. I’d love to have one like that. I heard that it was made by this castle’s craftsmen.”
Recalling how comfortable it was when she first rode one, Mira made her request.
“Oh, that. Yeah, sure, fine. No problem. Got any requests in regards to the interior?”
“Hmm, requests huh…"
Mira asked just how far can it be tweaked, and Solomon explained the range that was possible.
As a result of the two’s long discussion, they settled on a rough image. It would be as close to Mira’s requests as possible while being made with solid materials that would not budge even in wind and rain.
The technology has advanced even further than Mira had expected, and as a result, the two came up with a luxurious blueprint.
The two felt as if they were building a secret base, and went a bit too far. In the past when they were making a secret base, they also forgot to put on the brakes when planning; ending up up spending an enormous amount of time on it.
“It will be really interesting to see it done.”
“Mhm, I’m already looking forward to it.”
Facing each other, the two made expressions like those of innocent kids and grinned.
Then finally, when the two predicted roughly when it will be finished, Mira spoke as if recalling something.
“By the way, a lot happened and I revealed my identity to Mariana and Cleos, as well as Litaria.”
“I see. I won’t ask what happened, but there’s no problem if it’s those three. Got it.”
The Tower of Summoning’s aide Mariana and the Sage’s Substitute Cleos. As well as Luminaria’s Aide, Litaria. The three were trustworthy beyond doubt. Solomon affirmed it was all right and said that he will speak with them if he needs something regarding Danbulf.
“Solomon-sama, it’s nearly time for the meeting.”
“All right, got it.”
Changing his tone of voice, Solomon shortly responded to a man’s voice coming from beyond the door. Next, he poured tea into his cup and drank it all at once before heaving a large sigh.
“That was fast, ehh. Oh, right. About the case with Nyanmaru...”
Solomon mentioned the name as he recalled. It was the the name of the shikigami that protected a spirit from people assaulting her.
“Oh-hoh, did you find something?”
“No, not really.”
Mira leaned forward with expectations, but Solomon shook his head sideways and denied. Then, he looked happily as Mira pursed her lips and,
“But we heard a vague piece of information.”
he continued as so.
The information regarded something else other than the shikigami Nyanmaru protecting the spirit.
Although it was not public information, there were rumors that other people like that were out there. It was unknown whether it is people acting alone or an organization, but people opposing Chimera Crossen certainly did exist.
“I see, mm. Which means that the one I stumbled upon was one of them.”
“All of this are things we heard from spirits, just like you have.”
Being one of warrior-classes Solomon was unable to see spirits, which made him a little disgruntled as he cleaned up the tea set.
“Oh and lastly, I’ll pass this to you.”
Solomon passed Mira a bundle of papers that was under the tea set.
“Hooh, this is…”
Mira received it and lightly checked them one by one.
“You don’t have any yet, right? For the time being I gathered ones with this country and surroundings, you can put them in your item box.”
“Mhm, I’ll do so.”
About ten pieces of paper she received were maps of the Arkite Kingdom and its surroundings. Fayth Woods she was heading to were also included on the map.
Mira quickly put the maps in the item box’s “Important” category and opened the map option. When she did that, a map was displayed on a screen above her bracelet.
“This is useful.”
“In big towns there are stores selling maps, so if you need one you can buy maps of the town’s surrounding areas. Although we know roughly all areas, apparently it’s much better to travel with one than without.”
While bundling up the documents that were spread on the desk, Solomon recalled what he heard from ex-players who were adventuring and made a slightly nostalgic expression.
The thirty years he spent as the king were far from being boring, but from time to time he felt an urge to go on an adventure. Hearing tales from ex-players who knew his circumstances was now one of his biggest hobbies. It was one of reasons why he was happy from the bottom of his heart to talk with Mira.
“And one more thing, this.”
Taking out something of a size small enough to fit in a hand’s palm, Solomon extended it to Mira. It was a splendidly-decorated metallic plate with Arkite Kingdom’s national emblem shining silver, a number 9 and a ring engraving.
Taking that in her hand, Mira took a look at it and turned it around. On the back, there was a magic circle carved in it which made Mira puzzled.
“A type of magic tool?”
She suspected so from the magic circle, but Solomon shook his head in denial.
“It’s a medal. I thought of conferring it to you for finding clues that could lead us to Soul Howl’s location.”
While saying so, Solomon put his hand on the medal Mira was holding.
『”In the name of Solomon, I pass this onto thee.”』
Responding to Solomon’s words, the medal responded and the magic circle shone faintly.
“This is Abstract Magic of ownership. It proves that it was given to you by me.”
At another glance, the magic circle disappeared and instead engraved there was the king’s name. “It went well” Solomon muttered and let his hand go.
“I see, mm. Still, why would I need a medal…?”
An item commemorating an achievement. That’s the only impression Mira had of the medal. After staring at both sides of it, she muttered so.
“Actually, this medal means that Arkite Kingdom guarantees your person and status. When you need to gather information or get into certain places, this will help you use a certain social status. Show it and you will be accomodated to an extent.”
“Hooh, is that so. Then I’ll use it when there’s a need.”
When Solomon explained the way to use it, Mira played with the medal on the palm of her hand and nodded with satisfaction.
“Well then, farewell. I’ll be looking forward to souvenirs.”
“Mhm, I’m off.”
In Karnack, Mira acquainted herself with the boy called Takuto and guild Écarlate Carillon. Looking forward to what will she get dragged into next, Solomon enviously looked at Mira’s back as she walked with confidence; her long silver hair swaying behind her.
(“Maybe I should use the Cosmetic Box as well…")
When Solomon thought so, a report that all meeting members have gathered, has come from beyond the door.
“I will head over right away.”
When he answered, Solomon was no longer surrounded by a childish atmosphere, he made an expression of a king who continued to rule his kingdom for thirty years.
(“Well, I need to fulfill my duties.”)
Holding the bundle of documents to his side, Solomon left the dead-silent room with a ribbon shaking on his head.