Here’s the new chapter
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Translator & Proofreader: OssanTL
Zeros has returned from Istor Magic Academy.
The day after resting at home, Zeros went to the Lord’s mansion to report to Duke Delcasis.
One peculiar aspect of this Lord’s mansion is the presence of Solistia Company’s offices on both sides of the floor where guests are received.
Noble-class guests are led straight to the back, while discussions regarding business matters, particularly trade negotiations, are guided further back from either of the offices.
Well, if you imagine that there are three dedicated corridors guiding nobles from the centre and merchants from the left and right offices to the back, that would suffice. However, soldiers are constantly guarding the door leading further back, so even to deliver documents to the Duke, one must seek permission each time.
Duke Delcasis also considers it a waste of time, but he hasn’t come up with a good solution so far.
A mage dressed in black was guided to the exclusive negotiation corridor for merchants and led to the chairman of Solistia Company. In short, it was related to Duke Delcasis…
“Your Grace, Zeros-dono has arrived. Shall I allow him to enter?”
“Let him in.”
With a simple word of permission, Zeros entered the room accompanied by the staff.
“When you come through that door, refer to me as the Chairman. It’s important to distinguish our roles to avoid confusion, don’t you think?”
“I apologize. I’ll be more careful from now on.”
“Very well, then…”
As Zeros entered the room, he saw Delcasis buried under a mountain of documents.
From Zeros’ perspective, he couldn’t believe that Delcasis would leave behind so much work. He concluded that there must have been something important that kept him away for a while.
“It’s been a while, Delcasis-dono. I have successfully completed the request.”
“Hmm, I apologize. We are short-handed and quite busy at the moment. I feel bad for burdening you with this request.”
“It’s part of the job, so don’t worry. By the way… Were you in the capital city? There’s an incredible amount of work piled up…”
“It was a small errand. After taking care of some long-overdue business, this is the state I returned to.”
“I must say, I’m a little scared to hear about this small errand…”
It’s unclear what this Duke is up to behind the scenes.
Somehow, there was a feeling that the nature of that errand was dangerous.
“Well, regarding the reward for the request, if I recall correctly, you hired about three escorts for Kreuz and Celestina. I appreciate your thoroughness in providing them protection.”
“No, whether they would be suitable as escorts was a gamble. Unfortunately, Zweit couldn’t get one, but instead, I had my Cuckoo accompany him as a substitute.”
“…Cuckoo? Are you referring to the [Wild Cuckoo]? Those creatures are supposed to be relatively weak…”
“Heh… My Cuckoo is ferocious, you know.”
Delcasis had a slightly perplexed expression.
Never would anyone have imagined that the seemingly weak Cocco had evolved into a ridiculously powerful different species. Zeros himself had no idea.
The ability to transform into an advanced evolution was unheard of until now, and its strength boasted an exceptional level of 400.
Moreover, due to their daily sparring sessions with Zeros, the strength of the Cocco exceeded that of a typical hero. They possessed a considerable number of close-combat skills and were practically unbeatable.
“Well, let’s set aside the Cocco for now. So, according to the information that two assassins have defected, huh?”
“You’re well-informed. One of them is a criminal slave who, without knowing the law, foolishly got involved and ended up sold as a slave in the black market. The other one seems to be sticking around Zweit.”
“I heard she’s just a young girl. Is she going to be alright?”
“She may be young, but she’s strong, you know? Her status level must be over 800 at least. However, I’m worried that Zweit might get the wrong idea and develop a liking for young girls.”
“There’s a high chance of her turning the tables. I don’t think Zweit is that foolish, so he should be fine. Let’s prepare a salary for her as a guard here.”
“What about the other person?”
“Let’s grant them amnesty and release them from slavery. However, there won’t be another chance…”
It seemed that Eromura would be able to become free.
Although he’s a bit foolish, he’s not a bad person, so it’s an appropriate decision.
“And… here’s the composite sketch of the other escaped assassin.”
“It’s a woman… but why are there so many sketches of children? There are nearly 20 of them…”
“She possesses the ‘Elixir of Rejuvenation.’ She’ll likely rejuvenate herself and come back, so it’s just a precaution. I’d appreciate it if you could burn her at the stake if possible. …Torture her thoroughly.”
“Why do you have such a dangerous smile? Is she someone you want to deal with that badly?”
“By all means! It’s embarrassing to admit, but she’s my older sister. She’s a parasite who lives off exploiting others. Please eliminate her without any intention of using her. She’ll die in a few years anyway.”
“… Older sister?”
Delcassis considered Zeros’ sister to be highly useful.
The reason was that she was likely to betray easily and the additional cost was a problem.
The reckless behaviour of hiring her at an exorbitant price was evident, and if the enemy forces offered even slightly higher pay, she could easily sell our information.
If there’s one thing to praise, it would be her quick thinking. But even that is in a negative direction.
There is a method of intentionally providing false information, but it requires an excessive amount of money, indicating a problem with their sense of financial judgment. There’s a high chance they would indulge in luxury under the guise of necessary expenses, but Delcasis has no intention of wasting money like that.
Above all, the fact that she has no remaining lifespan diminishes her value as a valuable tool for exploitation, and the fact that she ended up in such a state is considered self-destruction, making her nothing more than foolish.
In short, she is incredibly difficult to handle in terms of her actions, personality, and financial matters.
“Understood. So… what is this gruesome painting here?”
“It’s a depiction of the scene in a village that suffered from fairy attacks on the way back. Well, it’s visual evidence of what the victims went through. I used a special familiar to record the incident on the spot.”
“How wicked… Does the Four Gods Religion endorse such creatures?”
“It’s similar to the cruelty of children. It’s precisely because they’re innocent that they can easily engage in such behavior.”
“So they lack the ability to judge good from evil. I see…”
Delcasis immediately sensed the danger associated with fairies.
Just as children kill insects for fun, fairies also kill living creatures for amusement, and humans are among their victims.
However, this information can be beneficial in a different way.
Lately, the Four Gods Religion has been causing a lot of trouble, particularly the [Methis Holy Kingdom], which is exerting pressure. It includes the advocacy of fairies and the enhancement of the authority of the priests, posing a significant headache.
After all, the [Methis Holy Kingdom] is the central sanctuary for the priests, and only they can use healing magic.
If the priests disappear from this country, medical care will have a significant setback, including treating injuries. This could put them at a disadvantage in times of war.
However, at this point, the Mage before him said something outrageous.
“Delcasis-dono, don’t you have any intention to sell healing magic?”
“Generally, holy magic is classified as light attribute magic. However, only the [Methis Holy Kingdom] currently possesses healing magic. Although the effectiveness might be slightly reduced, even a mage can heal minor injuries.”
“…But that would lead to a potential conflict with their country, wouldn’t it? Since most of their advantage lies in holy magic. Well, we can undermine their power, but…”
“Why not increase the number of specialized magic users for medical purposes within the military? We don’t have to rely solely on priests. There’s also a possibility of [Occupation Change] you know.”
“I see… It’s worth experimenting with. Even if healing magic is exposed, we can claim it as an achievement in magical research. But I doubt they would be satisfied with just that.”
“Why not sell it in neighbouring countries? If healing magic becomes available in multiple countries simultaneously, each country would likely assume they’ve developed it themselves. Moreover, it’s a problem that only priests can heal the injured. I believe even mercenaries could benefit from healing magic, reducing their attrition rate.”
“We do have doctors, for now. It seems the shortage is the same for both sides… Well, there is room for consideration. In that case, we’ll need to collaborate with neighbouring allied countries.”
“Let’s not ask about those details. It’s better if I just keep it as what I thought.
“That would already be interference in internal affairs, wouldn’t it…? By the way, is that healing magic an improved version by Zeros-dono?”
The Ossan pondered for a moment.
He had a mountain of scrolls containing regular healing magic. He had sold them cheaply to beginners during [Sword and Sorcery], but he rarely sold the improved versions.
However, he felt that selling degraded versions with reduced magic effectiveness wouldn’t be a problem compared to the improved ones.
After all, he felt there was no need to be so reserved when dealing with a nation that defended the troublesome race of fairies. However, there was also a slight concern about handing over everything.
“Fortunately, I have healing magic scrolls ranging from beginner to intermediate levels. How about other countries deposit their pre-improved versions through diplomatic trade, and I sell the ones I improved in this country? Well, they’re just slightly more effective than the regular ones, though.”
“I see, occasionally healing magic scrolls are discovered in ruins, but if the same or more effective versions circulate, the [Methis Holy Kingdom] would lose its advantage. If the effects are different, they can’t complain. It seems they have been resorting to threats with the power of heroes lately, so it would be interesting to make a move around here.”
“Well, there’s no need to hold back…”
“Yes, there’s no need. However… improvement, huh? It’s not a finished product, is it? Are you deliberately leaving room for improvement by the Mage?”
“Even if we were to sell finished products, I don’t think it would help other mages grow. They might be unable to use them properly due to lack of skill, and I would like them to make some effort to improve independently.”
“It could be bad if they misuse it. Their way is to find fault and take it away… Well, guess that’s what we’re going to do.”
The [Methis Holy Law Kingdom] uses religious reasons to seize recovery magic scrolls discovered in ruins from other countries. They claim that only priests can use divine magic, but if it becomes known that mages have successfully created them, the narrative will change.
If mages use healing magic, it will reduce the income of organizations like churches that rely on operating expenses generated from it. The fact that mages can heal injuries would create a crack in faith and could rapidly decrease the number of believers.
It’s easy to change the settings of spells and such, so even if they come up with complaints, we can simply deceive them by saying it’s the result of extensive research. In fact, since the [Methis Holy Kingdom] is disliked by neighbouring countries, Delcasis started devising a plan, expecting them to gladly cooperate.
The problem for small countries is not only the dispatched priests but also the various things the whimsical heroes do when they come. There are some decent individuals, but some of them act recklessly, using their power as they please. However, their strength cannot be underestimated, as one of them can single-handedly routed the knight corps of a small country.
Well, the knights in this world have an average level of 300, so they can’t stand up against a level 500 hero. With three of them, they could easily defeat a whole division. Heroes grow rapidly due to their correction effect and also enhance their bodies to a certain extent. These guys appear in border towns and cause all sorts of trouble.
While discussing such matters, Zeros placed the scroll on the table.
“What a troublesome bunch, huh?”
“Especially, the five individuals: [Himejima], [Sasaki], [Kawamoto], [Iwata], and [Yasaka], are being treated favorably as the main force. The others are currently being deployed to battlefields all over and occasionally appear in other countries seemingly on a whim.”
Hearing Japanese names that felt out of place in a different world, Zelos narrowed his eyes.
“ Heh~ , How interesting. I’d love to meet them if possible.”
“…You have quite a dangerous look in your eyes. What do you plan to do if you meet them?”
“Well, it depends on the individual, doesn’t it? If they come all the way to another country and cause trouble, it’s hard to defend them.”
“I hope they don’t come to this country. Well, I must get back to work soon. I apologize, but let’s end the conversation here.”
“I apologize for taking up your time with a long conversation.”
“No… I’ve already prepared the reward. I’ll inform the receptionist on your behalf.”
“Well then, I’ll take my leave for today.”
“Yes, take a good rest.”
After Zelos left the room, Delcasis looked at the object placed on the table and crossed his arms, lost in thought.
“Now, how should I use this… That country has grown a bit too large and it might be interesting to provoke them a little. If I execute that plan based on the information, it could deal a significant blow. Hmm… I should decide when to play my cards. It’s best to act sooner rather than later.”
Delcasis wore a dangerous smile similar to Zeros and returned to his work.
He knew that if he didn’t finish his accumulated tasks, it would eat into the time he could spend with his wife and mistress. A capable man gives his all for the sake of women.
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
Three days later, the Ossan wore a straw hat and had a towel draped around his neck as he mowed the grass.
It required considerable strength to uproot the deep roots, more than he had anticipated, and his back hurt from the prolonged crouched position.
The growth was astonishing, so it could be considered a thicket rather than just grass.
He used the [Omni-Scythe] to cut down the small grass and then painstakingly pulled out the rest by hand, repeating the process endlessly. The Cuckoos also helped, increasing efficiency, but one-third of the task remained.
The vegetable field where the crops were planted was also covered in grass, but thanks to the Cuckoos clumsily pulling them out, the spread was kept to a minimum, which was fortunate.
When he got tired, he would harvest the vegetables. Root vegetables would be pickled, and soybeans and others would be dried in the sun.
” Luceris-san, What’s the matter?”
“No, I received some eggs this morning and wanted to express my gratitude. I couldn’t thank you earlier because I was in the middle of morning prayers, so I apologize.”
“Not at all, you’re a neighbor. Besides, I can’t eat all of them by myself.”
“We had a bit too many here, so I shared them with the neighbors, and they were delighted. Thank you so much.”
“That’s great to hear. The eggs won’t go to waste.”
“By the way…”
Luceris gazed toward the chicken coop and voiced a slightly puzzled question.
“What are you doing, Iris-san? Is it some kind of dance?”
“Ah… I’m training to acquire combat skills. It’s called form training, where I memorize various forms that can be used in different situations and reproduce them instantly. It may look like a strange dance, though…”
For the past three days, Iris has diligently practiced forms with the Cuckooss at the Ossan’s house.
However, being an indoor person, her movements don’t quite resemble those of someone practicing forms, to say the least.
From anyone’s perspective, it just looks like she’s dancing a strange dance and tripping over repeatedly.
By the way, form training is something like tai chi, and when Iris, who is essentially a novice, does it, her movements are too inefficient.
Although the movements are slow, it’s surprisingly challenging to manage the amount of force applied to the body, shift the center of gravity, maintain posture balance, and perform it while channeling magical power resulting in significant fatigue.
“By the way… Where did you get the clothes you’re wearing, Iris-san? I’ve never seen them before. I feel like they seem similar to Kaede-chan’s clothes….”
“Those are specialized equipment for martial artists. Well, even a mage can wear them, you know. I’m wearing them to acquire the [Apprentice Fighter] skill. I seem to have a strong desire to become stronger.”
By the way, it’s designed as a gi, making it easier to learn martial arts skills.
It doesn’t provide any defense or physical enhancement effects.
“Is Iris-san, a girl like her, training to become stronger? Kaede-chan aside, she’s supposed to be a mage, right? Do you really need martial arts skills?”
“She managed to corner [Fairy Rose], but she was temporarily captured and almost killed in the process. By training combat skills, her own abilities will inevitably be enhanced, so it’s basically training to survive, I guess.”
“Couldn’t she quit being a mercenary and live a normal life? I don’t think she’s suited for rough work.”
“It seems she wants to go to the dungeon. That’s probably why she’s training to strengthen her body. It looks like she’s working hard towards her dream. Well, well, being young is nice…”
As Iris continues her form training, clumsily falling down, next to her are five children who execute their forms flawlessly, as if they were the boys from a certain temple.
They are Kaede, Anje, Johnny, Radi, and Kai, the five orphans from the orphanage.
“Alright, form training is done~♪”
“Next is sparring~!!”
“I, as a master of empty-handed techniques, will show you my skills! Aim for the strongest warrior!”
“The meal after exercise is delicious, you know~. Let’s go pick up the garbage in the afternoon? It’s a way to earn money.”
“The meat after exercise is exceptional… I shall become a meat hunter!!”
“”And then we’ll conquer the dungeon, save up money, and live a self-indulgent life!!””
“I will make my martial name resound in this world! I swear it on my grandfather’s name!!”
The children are faithful to their desires. And Kaede was a bloodthirsty warrior.
They understand that, but when the children openly express their unrestrained desires, the Ossan and Luceris feel their strength drain away.
It’s good that they are positive, but their dreams are not very childlike.
And then, excluding Iris, the five of them start sparring and grappling with the Cuckoos using weapons or their bare hands.
―――Crack!! Bang!! Thud!!
The heavy sound of impact resonates, unlike what children would do in their sparring.
“Those kids, they’ve become so strong all of a sudden… It’s hard to believe they’re just children. They could easily take down adults, don’t you think?”
“Regardless of their dreams, at least they’re not going down the wrong path. Fortunately, they’re not causing trouble for others… sigh…”
“Did they stop begging for food? They used to say, ‘Give us meat~’ before…”
“They no longer need to beg for food because their pocket money increased from buying and selling medicinal herbs. It’s thanks to Zeros-san… sigh…”
For Luceris, the begging the children used to do was an embarrassing topic.
Lately, they’ve stopped doing that and are focusing on growing stronger to achieve their dreams.
The problem is how incredibly strong those kids have become. They’ve been training with the Cuckoos that exceed level 200 for a reason. Their combat skills have reached an unprecedented level.
By fighting strong opponents, their skill effects and modifiers have greatly improved (the effects gained from defeating low-level monsters and leveling up are surpassed by the modifiers gained from facing high-level opponents), and yet their levels are still in the single digits. They are truly fearsome children.
“Hmm. But if their skill effects are increasing to that extent, upgrading them won’t be easy. We’ll have to face strong monsters… Maybe we should let them go hunting somewhere.”
“Zeros-san!? Those kids are still children, you know? Doing something that dangerous… ”
“But you know… Those kids are one year younger than Iris-san, right? I think it would be better to train them to be self-reliant from now on, don’t you think?”
Even though they may look young, the children from the orphanage are one year younger than Iris and at an age where they would normally start helping with work and learning about society.
Their youthful appearance is due to the unfavorable living conditions at the orphanage, where they couldn’t afford nutritious food. However, recently the environment has improved, and it feels like they’ve grown a bit taller.
They might not become mercenaries, but they could possibly become hunters, at least.
“Experience is necessary to enter society. Those kids can make simple healing potions and salves on their own, and they’re reasonably skilled. It would be good for Kaede-san to develop her abilities to protect herself as well. We can’t stay like this forever…”
“Yes… I understand. But I don’t want those kids to do anything dangerous. If something were to happen…”
“We’ll train them so that doesn’t happen. But since they’ve already said they want to go to the dungeon, there’s no doubt they will. They’re loyal to their desires…”
“W-Well, I can’t deny that…”
While cutting the grass and conversing, Iris finally seemed to engage in a sparring match.
Her opponent was the [Black-Feathered Cuckoo]. It’s one of the few Cuckoos with the [Instruction] skill.
Whether it’s because of its good nature or not, it would meticulously and politely correct Iris’s form even if it was slightly off.
Iris was effortlessly thrown into the air.
In terms of levels, Iris is higher, but in close combat, the Cuckoo is much stronger.
“Koke (Stand up. With this level, you’ll die in actual combat, you know?)”
“Shi, Shihan! Please go a little easier! It was really scary!”
“Koke Koke (The path of martial arts cannot be achieved in a single day. Daily training is crucial, you know? Just complaining won’t make you stronger).”
“Ugh… The master is strict.”
It was a female. Moreover, she was a reliable and caring senior type in club activities.
For these past three days, a caring and strict older sister-like Cuckoo patiently guides Iris, who keeps complaining. That’s why Iris is working hard to acquire and strengthen her skills.
“By the way, I wonder why we can understand each other’s words. It’s mysterious…”
“In my free time, I often train with the children. That Cuckoo teaches in a polite manner, and it’s really helpful in terms of education.”
“…Our Cuckoo is more human-like than humans, don’t you think? Alright, let’s name that Cuckoo [Meikei].”
It was surprising that Luceris was training with the children in martial arts. And a Cuckoo was teaching them techniques.
That Cuckoo would become the fourth named monster.
Meikei realized that a name had been given to her and lowered her head, folding her wings in front of her.
Whether it was his imagination or not, the Ossan felt a slight increase in Meikei’s strength.
“Luu! So you were here.”
“Oh, Jane. You’re late, aren’t you?”
A voice calling Luceris from behind could be heard, and when she turned around, she saw Jane and the others.
It seemed like they had finally returned by ship and appeared somewhat tired.
“Late? Why… This is actually early… Wait! Why is the Ossan here!?”
“Well, it’s because he rushed down the highway. Jane, you were late, right?”
“You know, right? The ship was delayed because of the wind direction, and that Rena…”
“Ah… I could understand without you saying it. She went on a rampage… Thank you for your hard work.”
The Ossan involuntarily saluted. He could fully understand the hardships Jane went through.
“And to make matters worse… In the end, she dared to lay her hands on a young child!”
“So, she received punishment from Ukei and the others, and was dragged back all tied up… Truly, thank you for your hard work. This is the reward for the request. I have already given it to Iris-san, so please take it.”
“Ah… Now I can rest peacefully… Wait, this… Isn’t it too much?”
When Jane confirmed the received reward, a look of astonishment appeared on her face.
Seeing a reward that was much higher than any previous requests, her hands trembled.
In the background, Rena bounced around like a fish on a cutting board, but the Ossan decided not to pay it any mind.
“However… Is it alright to give the reward to Rena?”
“Ah… Without a doubt, she’ll bring the boys to the inn. Is this what they call being a ‘vixen’?”
“Well… In Rena’s case, would you say she’s more on the lecherous side? It might be better to keep her wrapped up like that…”
“Give her the reward? It will undoubtedly be gone in three days, right?”
Normally, it wouldn’t be an amount that could be spent in three days, but it seems different for Rena.
Rena, who was wrapped up, seemed like she wanted to say something, but the Ossan decided to ignore it.
“Luceris, let’s have them rest at the orphanage. They seem tired from the long journey, in more ways than one…”
“That’s right. Jane, will you stay at the orphanage tonight? It must be difficult to find an inn as well.”
“Please… I don’t even have the energy to look for an inn because of Rena…”
“You must be really tired. Please take Rena-san’s reward as well. I can’t keep holding onto it either…”
Rena was giving a fierce glare.
And her breathing became unnecessarily heavy. She had a different kind of motivation.
If the rope is untied, she would run off according to her desires.
“By the way, what is Iris doing?”
Even when her companions returned, Iris was still being thrown around by Meikai and left out in the cold.
Since this was training, there shouldn’t be anyone to help her, so on this day as well, Iris flew through the air multiple times.
Her efforts bore fruit, and after one week, she succeeded in acquiring a full set of warrior job skills.
On a side note, her training would become even more intense with Iris obtaining warrior job skills.
Thanks to her efforts, Iris became able to equip warrior-specific gear. However, the bruises she obtained during training wouldn’t fade for a while…
In any case, Iris dedicated herself even more to training, aiming to acquire skills and level up.