Chapter 15: The old man challenges the Gate of Trials

I was a lil exhausted when editing this chapter. There were also several parts of the chapter I couldn’t understand clearly so do let me know if there were any awkward sections in this chapter.

Hope you enjoy this chapter!

<Start of Chapter>

We began heading towards the Gate of Trials.

Due to the lack of time, Princess Aure began her arrangements immediately and thus we set out for the dungeon before sunset.

Originally, Lutra wouldn’t be able to gain access to the dungeon due to her brother, Prince Aleck’s influence. However we managed to gain permission due to Princess Aure pulling some strings behind the scenes. Although we wouldn’t be able to raise our levels before the inheritance ceremony, members of the royal family gained a special bonus whenever they cleared the Gate of Trials for the first time, meaning that this was the only way Lutra could become stronger in time for the ceremony.

…however there were also several troubling points.

When Lutra brought up the point about using the Return Stone to return to the castle for the inheritance ceremony, she failed to notice that Princess Aure was genuinely smiling brightly.

[Yuuya, it’s a castle’s dungeon.This is exciting!] (Luna)

[Uhn uhn, if we don’t seize this opportunity we may never get to enter again.] (Til)

The bright voices that came to me felt like they were blowing my troubles away as Luna and Til were both full of energy as usual.

[It’s an interesting dungeon. It looks exactly like a castle.] (Lutra)

This dungeon was exactly as Lutra described, a castle.

[Considering the dungeon looks like the same castle which the battle princess Renoir stayed in, it’s a given that the castle looks similar to the dungeon.] (Yuuya)

During the game, the dungeon had looked exactly like the castle back then. However the castle had gradually changed over the course of several centuries.

[Everyone listen up for now. Since there wasn’t enough time and too many people around us, there is something that I have to say. It’ll be great if we could explore the dungeon to our heart’s content, however there are most likely traps placed around the dungeon by Princess Aure. There could be assailants waiting to ambush us or assassins that are going to be sent after us while we are exploring.] (Yuuya)

Aside from Phil, everyone’s expressions darkened drastically, especially Lutra who was dealt the largest blow.

[That is impossible! The Gate of Trials is restricted to the party members of the royal family. The only person capable of doing something like this at this timing would be my sister. There is no way she would do such a thing!] (Lutra)

Lutra’s response wasn’t baseless. In fact it was exactly as she said. The only person in the royal family who knew about our entry into the dungeon was her, which meant that if something were to happen to us in the dungeon, the first suspect would be her.

[I have my reasons for doubting her. Why didn’t she warn you about using the Return Stone in the dungeon? The Gate of Trials is a special dungeon, rendering Return Stones useless. Why didn’t she warn you about it? If she was truly worried about you then she would have cautioned you about this matter when you brought it up.] (Yuuya)

[That, what if aneue didn’t know about that too…] (Lutra)

[She cleared the dungeon too didn’t she? She should have received a proper explanation about the dungeon.] (Yuuya)

[Couldn’t she had just forgotten about it?] (Lutra)

[This is something that could cost her sister’s life. Forgetting something as important as this, does that really sound plausible? Especially when the person is you, someone who is widely known for her innate combat talents?] (Yuuya)

I warned Lutra with a rather strict tone however it seems that my words weren’t being registered in her mind. “I can’t believe this” , Lutra’s feelings were being transmitted to me through her words.

  [Even so, I believe in my sister. When my brother began treating me coldly, sabotaging me and ignored me no matter how much I reached out, I had no choice but to keep my distance as I was afraid of making the person I respected the most from disliking me. In such a dark time, it was my sister who reached out to me….. That is why. She had so many opportunities to kill me back then. What reason does she have to put me in a trap now of all times, when I was going to pass the crown if I won regardless.] (Lutra)

Prince Aleck was also a favourite in the battle for the throne. If he were to seriously view Lutra as an enemy and began sabotaging her even further, the friendly version of him that Lutra knew, would likely disappear. 

Lutra was already an illegitimate child of a concubine. Lutra who was just a child back then must have been extremely lonely.

  [Which is why she took advantage of Lutra who had been left all alone knowing fully well that if done right, she would have an important piece in the battle… It’s also easy to imagine why she changed her mind about killing you. Lutra before meeting me was weak. Realizing that you weren’t useful to her cause, she decided to eliminate you. Or perhaps she has obtained a different trump card, one that could defeat Prince Aleck.] (Yuuya)

This was the most reasonable conclusion I could draw. I wasn’t just idling around until daybreak.

  [There were still several suspicious points. I went out and gather information from the knights and soldiers that I had fought together with. Prince Aleck never had a change in personality. He was a prince who continued loving his country and people, doing everything he could to his country’s benefit. It’s always possible to manipulate a person’s impression of you, but his achievements were written in black and white. I heard that he was working harder than anyone for the sake of his country. Then what reason did Princess Aure have, spreading negative information about Prince Aleck behind his back?] (Yuuya)

  [Yuuya-ojisama!] (Lutra)

This was my first time ever seeing her shout.

  […Yuuya-ojisama’s words aren’t mistaken. I am definitely suspicious about the situation with my sister. But it is also possible for those people who were supportive of my brother to be ignorant of his actions. Above all, my sister was always supportive of me unlike my brother.] (Lutra)

Persuading her is only going to get harder from this point on.

Their bond was something that was cultivated over several years.

  [In that case you don’t have to believe whatever I say. This dungeon is the perfect location for setting up a trap. It’ll be better for us to be on guard for any surprise attacks.] (Yuuya)

  [My sentiments as well.] (Lutra)

I ended the conversation there as I continued to explain the countermeasure against any possible ambush. If we were being chased by any assailants then we’ll be utilizing Luna’s Presence Detection to avoid the monsters as much as possible while progressing into the dungeon at top speed. Our party was quick and it’s highly unlikely for the assailants to keep up with us with the monsters in the vicinity. 

The only problem was if the assailants were waiting in ambush. The only thing I could do was to warn everyone to keep an eye out for any possible ambushes.

Let’s overcome this dungeon as quickly as possible.

.

.

.

The Gate of Trial was a dungeon which tested the royal family’s ability to lead.

The monsters which appeared here were strong and required power to defeat. Wisdom was required to clear the numerous puzzles that were present as well as courage to cross the unstable wooden bridge that hung over a mountain of weapons.

With power, wisdom and courage, overcoming every obstacle in your way and arriving at the depths will grant you a special ability befitting a king.

After defeating several monsters, we arrived at a dead end.

  [Yuuya-niisan, there are three doors in front of us.] (Til)

Just as Til said, there were three doors presented with a picture propped against the wall. There was only one correct door, and entering the wrong door means death.

『33 33 44 ◇ 66

 22 11 22 22 55

 Please enter the correct two digits.』

Luna and Til began talking as they noticed the question.

  [Uhn. No clue.] (Luna)

  [I don’t understand what it means. Is it 33? 33 looks correct.] (Til)

It looks like this problem was too difficult for the two of them as the three doors had the numbers 77, 88, and 33 engraved into each of them.

  [It’s 77.] (Yuuya)

  [Yuuya is amazing!] (Luna)

  [How do you know that?] (No idea who this is)

  [The hint is addition and subtraction. Now, let’s go on ahead.] (Yuuya)

If we had enough time, I would have allowed Lutra to solve it alone however I’m hoping to clear the dungeon as soon as possible.

There were a total of three puzzles to solve in the Gate of Trials.

Although the questions may seem random, the three questions were selected from a pool of seventy two questions. Regarding the pool of questions, I had memorized all of them which meant that I wouldn’t be able to get any of them wrong. Although the question we got this time was simple, there were several very difficult problems.

  [I understand now. Although I heard the answer, the next number is 11.] (Lutra)

  [Correct. It seems that you would had got it even without me.] (Yuuya)

Lutra’s expression seemed stiffer than usual ever since I mentioned about the assailants possibly being sent by Princess Aure.

  [Muu, Luna will solve it too.] (Luna)

  [I’ll work hard too. However if I don’t understand then please tell me the answer.] (Til)

Sometimes what’s important isn’t your body but your head. I’ll continue to let the two think about the problem.

.

.

.

It has been about two hours since we entered the dungeon.

We’ve been running about the dungeon at a speed where we wouldn’t be exhausted. Thanks to that, our exploration has been going smoothly.

  [Ah! Understand.. Luna understands now!] (Luna)

  [Truth is I already got the answer awhile ago.] (Til)

  [Eh, lies!? Was Luna the only one who didn’t know? Luna definitely solved !] (Luna)

Although it was bad to be distracted during an exploration, it looked like they are properly paying attention to their surroundings so it was fine to let them be. Although we were prioritizing our clear speed over unnecessary battles, there were several battles that couldn’t be avoided.

… Just like now.

There was a new enemy awaiting for us, a Shadow Cat. Just as it’s name implies, it’s a black cat monster which was capable of diving into the shadows which allowed it to hide even from Luna’s Presence Detection. The monster was currently hiding in the shadow of a pillar, waiting to launch a surprise attack. Since it was a cat, it had large and sharp fangs and claws and often targeted a person’s vital spots, however it didn’t mean that it’s prey were just sitting ducks.

Although Presence Detection was a convenient ability, if you relied on it too much and lowered your guard, you would be eventually fall prey to this type of monsters. As if to prove my point, it attacked Luna.

However Luna responded immediately as she launched a counter towards the beast.

  [Uhn. Luna was prepared.] (Luna)

A short dagger was penetrated into the mouth which was wide open, attempting to rip into Luna’s neck.

Luna’s growth was progressing smoothly as she was properly watching her surroundings even while utilizing her abilities. Even if that wasn’t the case, at this short of a distance the rest of us would be able to react accordingly. An arrow pierced the Shadow Cat which was on the verge of death, sticking it’s body onto the pillar as it’s body slowly turned into blue particles.

  [This is my first time seeing such a monster. As expected of the royal dungeon.] (Phil)

  [I know right. There are many monsters here that you can’t find anywhere else. If it’s possible I hope to collect some materials here, however our priority is to clear the dungeon as soon as possible.] (Yuuya)

The Gate of Trials contained monsters and materials which I hoped to obtain however in this situation we didn’t have the time for it.

  [Ahh, Yuuya-niisan. It dropped something over there.] (Til)

  [It’s a rare drop, Chrysobell. It’s a jewel that’s used for staff. It’ll sell for a large price.] (Yuuya)

Chrysobell was also known as the Cat’s Eye Jewel. This jewel would fetch a large price from anyone who required a magical staff.

  [Hurray, this is a huge haul!] (Luna)

  [We have to go and search for a good restaurant in Laluzulu.] (Til)

Since we were in a rush, we continued to run as soon as the battle ended. However Luna and Til began to dance even while we were running.

They were just wasting their energy.

.

.

.

We had finally solved the third puzzle as well as the test of courage. We entered finally arrived at our goal as we exited a corridor.

  [Once we reach the end of this road and enter the audience chamber, we’ll be done with the dungeon.] (Yuuya)

Our exploration went extremely smoothly as we took full advantage of my prior knowledge. The final riddle was extremely brutal as we would have been hard pressed if we couldn’t answer it. We had to distribute eleven horses according to a will.

The eldest son is to receive one third.

The second son is to receive one quarter

The eldest daughter and second daughter receives one sixth.

Is it possible to follow the will?

That was the question.

  [The previous question, I understand it. It’s impossible because it was eleven. If you assumed there was an additional horse from the beginning then there wouldn’t be a problem.] (Lutra)

  [That’s amazing. Even I couldn’t solve it the first time I saw it.] (Yuuya)

After reading how the will was designed, you would assume that it was impossible with eleven horses but as Lutra mentioned, you had to assume the number of horses to be twelve instead of eleven.

Solving the question with twelve horses, the eldest son receives four horses, the second son receives three and the two daughters receives two horses each, totalling eleven horses. If you knew the answer then it’ll be easy to notice, however the difficult part was thinking of dividing according to twelve horses instead of eleven.

  [However I’m relieved. We made it to the goal unscathed.] (Lutra)

  [That’s true.] (Yuuya)

She was relieved due to the fact that our suspicion towards her sister was cleared as we had reached the goal without any troubles. Contrary to my expectation, we did end up arriving at the goal without any assailants.

Luna’s fox ears began to jerk.

  [Ahead of us, two monsters. Eh.. It’s a gorilla and a goblin.] (Luna)

A gorilla and goblin? That’s weird, there shouldn’t be any in the Gate of Trials.

  [Fufun,  I can see it. I don’t even have to get closer!] (Til)

Til fired an arrow towards the heart of the two monsters more than a hundred metres away, inflicting a lethal wound as the two monsters turned into blue particles.

At that moment, I was sure of it.

The moment the gorilla and goblin received their lethal wounds, they continued to run towards us as their muscles began to swell, pushing the arrows out of their body and closing the wounds. Not only that, their magical power jumps drastically as they seem to enter a frenzy. Their body became bigger, their colour changed and their expressions became excessively aggressive.

Til fired a second arrow as Phil supported her attack with her own arrows, however the monsters merely grabbed the arrows with their hands.

  [I can’t believe it!? How did that monster!?] (Til)

  [If it’s able to stop an attack at this level,… It must be a high-rank monster.] (Phil)

When Til struck their hearts with her arrows, they were definitely upper level thirties monster corresponding to the dungeon. However, it grew into a level 50ish monster… No, it evolved.

This was something we had experience before, similar to the Killer Ape which I fought back in Rumberg. 

After looking at this phenomenon, everything began to make sense. Princess Aure had tried to control Lutra back then because she needed an important tool to defeat Prince Aleck. The reason she tried to eliminate Lutra back in Greenwood, was because she didn’t need a useless piece that couldn’t achieve her goal. If she was confident of defeating Prince Aleck on her own, then the popular Lutra would merely be a nuisance.

Her new trump card must have been the evolving monsters.

The moment Lutra entered the dungeon, two evolving monsters coincidentally appeared at the end of the dungeon. Although Prince Aleck was strong, he wasn’t strong enough to defeat even a single one of these monsters. 

Furthermore, the presence of these monsters answered another major question.

… Nobody could enter this dungeon unless you possessed the royal blood.

Which meant that someone from the royal family came along with these monsters.

Since Prince Aleck wasn’t around nor did he condone allowing Lutra into the dungeon, he was innocent. On the contrary, my suspicion towards Princess Aure who was encouraging Lutra to enter the dungeon grew even stronger. Lutra is a smart person, after witnessing this situation there is too much evidence supporting this no matter how much her heart rejected this.

  [Firstly, let’s put these monsters down.] (Yuuya)

  [Uhn. We’ll defeat them.] (Luna)

  [It’s a chance to show off my triple shoot that oneechan taught me!] (Til)

  [Til, they are dangerous opponents. This isn’t the time for jokes.] (Phil)

  [….Anueue, this isn’t the case right.] (Lutra)

If the five of us are here, then we won’t lose.

No matter how strong these monsters are, we’ll show you how naive you are, thinking that these two were enough to kill us.

Advertisements

Chapter 14: The old man meets the princess.


We were invited to dinner in the Laluzulu Castle and I was currently in my guest room. The guest room was large enough to allow any visitor or employee to invite their family in and spend their time comfortably.

  [Se… Lutra, is it alright for you to be here? Shouldn’t you be in your own room?] (Yuuya)

In the spur of the moment, I nearly forgot to address her correctly.

Although the castle was supposed to be her home, for some reason, she was currently in my room.

  [This is just a precaution. It’s true that the castle is my home, but at the same time, it is also my brother’s playing ground. Even the servants here can’t be trusted.] (Lutra)

  [That is true. Sorry for asking such a redundant question.] (Yuuya)

Lutra has been on edge ever since we returned to the castle. To her, this place was the lion’s den.

  [Shouldn’t you be visiting your sister? You must be hoping to see her.] (Yuuya)

She did mention that her intention was to win the ceremony and pass the crown to her sister. She held her sister in such a high regard that she trusted her enough with the crown.

  [I’ve already contacted her. She intends to meet up tomorrow morning. Yuuya-ojisama why don’t you come along with me? I’ll introduce you to my sister. I wanted to invite the Luna and the rest along however it’ll likely become too loud.] (Lutra)

  [I look forward to that. It’s your favourite person and a capable one too.] (Yuuya)

  [Yes. She’s physically weak unlike me and my brother, but in return she has a heart more caring than others and a mind sharper than a blade. I truly believe that she should become the ruler.] (Lutra)

Lutra began boasting about her sister. However, I still couldn’t get rid of the discomfort I felt around Lutra’s brother, Prince Aleck.

If he was exactly as how Lutra mentioned, then why would he appear personally to confirm Lutra’s identity? In fact, he was the first person who went out of his way to do so. Since Lutra’s elder sister was a princess, I’m sure that she must be busy, but is there anything more important than your own family? The moment you are able to, you should be rushing to your presumed dead sister to confirm her safety, especially since she was in the castle.

Actually, isn’t she speaking out too much against Prince Aleck in the first place since Lutra was extremely long trusting of her?

Sigh this is turning into a bad habit. If I begin to suspect too much then there will never be an end to this. I should just relax and take a break for today.

.

.

.

It was currently in the middle of the night.

Sensing a person’s gaze and bloodlust, I immediately pulled myself out of the bed, grabbed the knife that I brought with me to sleep every night and began scanning my surroundings.

Being an adventurer for several decades, I developed the ability to keep myself semi-conscious while sleeping, allowing me to react instantly to any changes in the surroundings.

Only a handful number of people were capable of procuring a safe bed. Without this ability my life would had already been long gone.

I threw my knife towards the ceiling without hesitation as I heard the sound of a muffled shriek.

[He ran away huh…] (Yuuya)

Looks like Lutra’s conjecture was spot on, this place was indeed the enemy’s playground. Since this was a castle, you couldn’t reliably send an assassin unless it was a top tier assassin. Thus, in order to confirm it, I threw my knife towards the ceiling, knowing that an expert assassin would dodge it. If the assassin couldn’t dodge something at this level, then it certainly wouldn’t be able to sneak into the castle unnoticed. In other words, the assassin received guidance from the inside.

Even though Prince Aleck seems suspicious, he was without a doubt a first-class swordsman who could understand the extent of Phil and my abilities. He would had judged that an assassin of such level would not be effective. In other words, there was another existence in the castle that was trying to eliminate Lutra.

[I’m starting to get worried for her safety.] (Yuuya)

Thanks to the sudden encounter, blood was rushing to my head causing me to be wide awake. Deciding to cool my head down, I grabbed my coat on the side of the bed and headed towards the veranda.

.

.

.

After entering the veranda, I immersed myself in the view from the castle. Although I was only on the third floor, the castle itself was situated on a hill, providing beautiful scenery as the sun rose from the horizon.

[Yuuya, seems like we encountered some trouble right from the beginning.] (Phil)

[Yeah.] (Yuuya)

I wasn’t the only one who was woken up by the bloodlust earlier as I looked back into the room. Luna and Til were still sleeping soundly with satisfied grins as Selene continued to sleep with a stiff expression. They were still far too inexperienced.

[Who do you think is the mastermind behind this?] (Yuuya)

[I can’t draw any conclusions this early yet. I do think that it can’t be the prince. I agree that the wind that he carried wasn’t malicious in any way and I highly doubt he was lying when he said that he cared about Lutra.] (Phil)

[I agree completely…. good grief. It would be so much simpler if he was the mastermind behind this.] (Yuuya)

Nothing is more troubling than not knowing the identity of your enemy.

[I feel so too. Yuuya, let’s head back in. It’s getting chilly out here.] (Phil)

[You’re right.] (Yuuya)

As usual, Phil leaned over for a kiss as there were rarely moments when we were alone. Although my reaction was slightly cold, I couldn’t deny that this was nice too.

.

.

.

The next morning, after enjoying my breakfast in the room,  I headed towards the courtyard where I would be meeting Lutra’s elder sister, Aure.

 Princess Aure, just like Prince Aleck were the legitimate children of the king and queen which granted them significant influence in the kingdom.

The number of princes and princesses were 6 in total. There were three legitimate children, Prince Aleck, Princess Aure and Prince Atra. However, the other three were children born and raised by the king’s concubines, Princess Lutra, Prince Nakura and Prince Soruha with each child being born from a different mother. According to Lutra, both Prince Nakura and Prince Soruha have already withdrawn from the ceremony. Since they were illegitimate children, they had little to no support for the throne and without innate talent like Lutra, they had zero chance of vying for the throne in the first place, reducing the number of participants to 4, Princess Aure, Princess Lutra, Prince Aleck and Prince Atra.

Just as we agreed on, only me and Lutra, would be meeting with Princess Aure.

[This is a beautiful garden.] (Yuuya)

[That’s what I think too. Our gardener tends to the garden every season, decorating it with the most beautiful flowers. This is my favourite place in the castle.] (Lutra)

Even without asking I could tell that Selene was proud of this garden. Even someone like me who had zero interest in flowers could recognize how beautiful this place was. It was a shame that we couldn’t bring Luna and the other girls along with us.

In the middle of the garden was a small shelter with a desk and several chairs for tea parties. Sitting on one of those chairs was a beautiful person with luscious golden hair and a smile as warm as the sun. Although she was in her late teens, she gave off the feeling of a loving mother.

She was Princess Aure.

This was my first time seeing her face, however judging from Luta’s reaction I could tell that this was her.

[You did well returning safely. I was relieved when I heard that you were still alive.] (Aure)

[I managed to survive somehow. All thanks to Yuuya-ojisama. Let me introduce you. This person is Yuuya Grandwood. He’s my personal knight.] (Lutra)

[Nice to meet you. I am Yuuya Grandwood.] (Yuuya)

I barely remembered to perform the Laluzulu salute as I saluted Princess Aure.

[I am Aure Laluzulu. It’s an honour to be acquainted with a celebrity such as you.] (Aure)

As a man, I was sure that anyone would be knocked out by Princess Aure’s smile as she smiled brightly towards me.

However, her smile never entered my mind as it felt like nothing more than a mask.

[Lutra, since we are enjoying a tea party, could you tell me about what happened ever since you set out? I’m curious about how amazing my little sister has become.] (Aure)

With this, the tea party officially started.

Princess Aure listened attentively to every word as Lutra excitedly talked about her adventures. Occasionally pitching in and nodding in agreement while inquiring for more details, time flew by just like that.

Lutra’s story was less of a natural recap of her adventures and more of a disciplined narration. Despite mentioning the gist of her situation, she made sure to omit specific details that need not be said.

Was Princess Aure trying to fish out for information?

[I never knew there was such a thing. I was worried about your well-being after being involved in the accident but looking at the results, it seems that it was a blessing instead.] (Aure)

[If it’s the current me now then I might even defeat Aniue.] (Lutra)

[Fufuu, if you became the ruler then this city will surely prosper.] (Aure)

When Lutra becomes the ruler?

Did Lutra not mention about passing over the throne to her? Thinking that, I turned towards Lutra who nodded to me.

[Aneue, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.] (Lutra)

[Please go ahead.] (Aure)

[I intend to become the victor of the inheritance ceremony, and pass the crown over to you.] (Lutra)

For an instant, Aure’s expression changed completely.

[…huh, why would you do such a thing?] (Aure)

[I am talented at swinging my sword. However I am vastly inferior to aneue whose specialty is in politics and finance. I believe that this is most beneficial for the Laluzulu. I could not leave the kingdom in the hands of aniue, not after what he has done. I firmly believe that aneue should be the ruler.] (Lutra)

[Why now?] (Aure)

[I intended to do this from the beginning. However I did not have the confidence to beat aniue so I couldn’t say it. I did not want to raise your expectations and worry you. But I can say it confidently now. After receiving Yuuya-ojisama’s guidance, I will defeat aniue and make aneue the queen.] (Lutra)

That was a powerful declaration.

Comparing their abilities right now, I would say that Lutra defeats her brother 7 in every 10 rounds. Although I wasn’t as familiar with Prince Aleck as I was with Lutra, I could roughly gauge his capabilities. If it was Lutra from before, then she might not get that many wins.

[I see, I hadn’t realised how much thought you put into this. Now that I know about it, the fact that you felt so strongly about it makes me happy.] (Aure)

Aure grabbed tightly onto Lutra’s hands as she thanked her for her consideration.

[Aneue has always been kind to me even after aniue changed. You have even taught me a lot of things which helped me numerous times. I wish to become that sister’s strength.] (Lutra)

It was a beautiful display of sisterly love.

I was sure that if the two of them joined their strengths and worked together, that the Laluzulu Kingdom’s future would be extremely bright.

[… Lutra, hypothetically. If your elder brother hadn’t changed and continued to care for his people and his country, passionately wished the best for everybody and the rumors were being fabricated, continued to build up his repertoire and was about as skilled as I was in politics and economics, what would you do?] (Aure)

[Although that sounds impossible, I would leave the crown to him.] (Lutra)

[Fufu, so long as he had the ability you would have chosen oniisama over me who comforted you when he abandoned you.] (Aure)

[…. that is the case.] (Lutra)

[Well you were always that kind of person. And your decisions were always right.] (Lutra)

I could feel her genuine smile sneak through the masking smile she had.

[But aneue, isn’t that just a meaningless question. After all I’ve heard all about what aniue has done and how he changed from you. Last night he even tried to deceive me but I had more faith in you than him.] (Lutra)

I could hear Lutra’s voice trembling as she told her sister about her trust.

[You’re right, it was a meaningless question. I said something a little excessive. Although I do think that your answer was correct. When thinking about the people and the country, it is more important to prioritize the person’s abilities over your own feelings.] (Aure)

Aure cut her sentence off before letting out the most perfect smile than she has ever did before opening her mouth.

[That is the part I love the most about Lutra.] (Aure)

She then continued to make tea as the conversation continued on.

As it was about to approach lunchtime, Princess Aure clapped her hands.

[Speaking of which, since oniisama had forced himself to make some time for you last night, he left as early as dawn today for work leaving me to take care of the house. If it’s now, I could try to get permission for you to use the exclusive dungeon if you like.] (Aure)

[I would like to accept but it is impossible for me to raise my level anymore before the ceremony.] (Lutra)

[You’re right, however if you manage to clear one of the dungeons, the Gate of Trials, then as a member of the royal family, you’ll gain a special ability. Both oniisama and I have already completed it, and you should be able to too.] (Aure)

If it was the Gate of Trials, then I knew about it too as it was a dungeon I cleared in the past. It was a dungeon that came up in an event where you would team up with other players and work with the battle princess Renoir, and obtain her powers.

[That is true. There is still time before the inheritance ceremony for me to obtain the power. If it gets too dangerous or take too long then I could use the Return Stone to return. Aneue, could you please lend me your power.] (Lutra)

[It would be my pleasure.] (Aure)

With that, our next course of action was decided. We were heading towards the Gate of Trials. And now, I was wholeheartedly convinced that Princess Aure was an enemy.

Regardless, there is one thing I’ve come to understand. Princess Aure has been putting on airs from the beginning, as if she did not want anyone to read her true thoughts.

What sealed the deal was the matter about the Gate of Trials. There were special dungeons in the world where Return Stones couldn’t be used.

The Gate of Trials was one of them. Despite Lutra’s comment about the Return Stones, she decided not to advise her about it. Since it was the royal family’s exclusive dungeon, the number of people who didn’t know about this were few to none. There was zero possibility that Princess Aure didn’t know about this. It only looks like she was supporting Lutra

We have the option of not entering the dungeon until the ceremony, however Lutra firmly believes in her older sister. Even though I had to tell her, ‘Princess Aure is an enemy’, I couldn’t do it. Furthermore, it was true that Lutra could become even stronger by clearing the Gate of Trials. Given the opportunity I would definitely choose to close it.

Let’s play on the palm of Princess Aure’s hand for the time being in order to determine our real enemy. I’m sure that even if some problem shows up somewhere, we’ll be able to deal with it. While thinking about this, I continued to enjoy the tea party until the end.

Chapter 13: The old man goes out with the prince 

At daybreak, we finally arrived at Selene’s hometown, the Laluzulu Kingdom.

Right before entering the city, Selene had revealed her identity, causing a huge commotion to occur. We proceeded to leave the raptor carriage with the guardsmen and waited in the guest room. 

Since the guards were convinced by Selene’s true identity, Princess Lutra, this became an even larger deal. As a result, their higher ups decided to bring someone capable of confirming her identity. However it seemed that it was a lot more trouble than we thought as it had already been two hours.

  [Uhn. I’m glad. Selene finally returned to her home.] (Luna)

Luna was talking to Selene as she accepted the sweets served to her by the guards. The guards were exceptionally considerate, going through the trouble of serving us light snacks as the preparation took a lot longer than expected.

  [That’s right. Although, I can’t let my guard down.] (Lutra)

  [Selene.. Sorry, I guess you are Lutra now? As Lutra mentioned, we can’t afford to be careless. We may even be in the most danger we’ve ever been. If our opponents was malicious enough, the battle may as well have already begun. They could insist that the Lutra that appeared was an imposter, or even outright attempt to erase any trace of this incident.] (Yuuya)

Luna and Til, the glutton duo stiffened up at my words. In contrast, Phil was prepared for battle even before I said anything. Similarly, Selene was prepared for the situation as well. Both of them most likely knew from their own experiences, as a seasoned adventurer and a political figure how dirty the real world was.

  [Uhn. Understood. Selene can be relaxed. Luna will assassinate anyone who comes close to Selene.] (Luna)

  [I’m here too you know.. Although, in a small room like this, my bow won’t be as effective.] (Til)

  [Kyu!]

The duo and Erik seemed to be filled with energy from our short exchange.

  [Luna, Til, Erik. Thank you. I’m glad that you feel that way. ] (Selene)

  [Although it’s good to be motivated, the moment a battle is about to break out, I want everyone to use their Return Stones immediately. Starting a battle here is a fool’s errand.] (Yuuya)

Even if a battle were to break out, I’m confident that we would emerge from the battle in good condition, however in the event of the worst condition I decided that using our Return Stones was the best course of action.

Although the item was used to escape dungeons, it’s actual ability was to return to it’s last recorded dungeon entrance. It could also be used outside of dungeons, meaning that we would be able to escape immediately to Grannel.

We were already on the verge of reaching level 40. In both me and Phil’s case, with our special benefits from our reset we were closer to level 50 instead. The girls were similar in our levels however just the stats they gained from their natural levels was enough to show that they were blessed by the gods. Furthermore, they were also naturally talented. They were already well on their way to catching up to me and Phil.

  [Understood. Luna will do as Yuuya says.] (Luna)
  [Return Stones are really convenient huh.] (Til)

  [That’s why their so highly valued. If they weren’t so highly priced then people would be using them much more often… Also, the two of you, we’re finally in the Laluzulu Kingdom. Her name is Lutra, not Selene.] (Yuuya)

  [Uhn. But it feels weird.] (Luna)

  [Right? We’ve always been calling her Selene.] (Til)

Lutra smiled at their responses.

  [I feel the same way. I’ve gotten much more attached to Selene than Lutra recently. Especially since it’s a name given by Yuuya-ojisama. I prefer it much more to Lutra.] (Lutra)

Lutra began to mention her liking for her alias, however it was time for her to be addressed properly as there were eyes all around us.

  [In that case, in the Laluzulu Kingdom you are Lutra! On the outside, you are Selene!] (Luna)

  [Sure, that sounds great.] (Lutra)

At this time, the guards had brought over several cups of tea and served them to us.

We ensured that there wasn’t any poison in the tea using a magic item that was capable of doing so. It was an essential item as our opponents could fairly well be capable of drugging our tea with poison or sleeping pills.

After we finished our tea, we heard a knock as the door slowly opened.

There were several soldiers escorting a youth dressed in white. The youth seemed to radiate a feeling of warmth as there was nothing to dislike about him. Furthermore his body seemed well conditioned and tanned with muscles that weren’t unnecessarily large. Such a body filled with lean muscle was an efficient body for someone who specialised in swordsmanship providing the necessary strength without overcompensating. Furthermore there was a strong sense of charisma radiating from his well-featured and attractive face as he looked towards Lutra.

  [Without a doubt, she’s my younger sister. Lutra, I’m glad that you returned home safely. I felt my blood rush to my face when I heard the news about your disappearance… Even after organizing the search team, there was no news about your rescue. After all this time, I’m happy that you’re back safe and sound. Truly.] 

Although I had trouble recalling his name, I finally remembered the name of Lutra’s elder brother, Prince Aleck. It seems that he had still retained some of his features from when he was young.

  [It’s a pleasant surprise to have my elder brother going out of his way to visit me.] (Selene)

  [Isn’t it a normal reaction for a brother to personally ensure his younger sister’s safety? Now, let’s return to the castle. Our father is worried about you.] (Aleck)

Looking at the warm expression Lutra had in response to her brother, it seemed like this was his honest expression. This was her brother expressing his anxiety over her younger sister whom he thought was gone.

  [You’re being obtuse. Saying this although you’ve made countless attempts to harass and obstruct me… I’m saying this as I’m not as good at playing games as you. It was you who threatened the knight into killing me, then proceeded to kill her and brush the incident off as an accident in the dungeon. I wonder if the knights sent on the search team met an unfortunate accident or were silenced instead. Putting myself aside, you’re involving and underestimating everyone else around us. One wrong move, and you’ll be drown in contempt.] (Lutra)

Lutra threw a straight punch towards her brother. 

Although I wouldn’t necessarily call her actions correct here, the path ahead of her was going to be thorny regardless. There shouldn’t be any particular problems with this.

  [What do you mean? How would I ever consider harming my own sister? I will admit to hindering your growth. I do have the power for that, after all my dear sister’s mother is merely a concubine. However it is ridiculous to be furious just for that. Knowing how to use everything at your disposal effectively to create an advantageous situation before the ceremony and increasing the chance of success is a necessary ability for a king. That is how our inheritance ceremony is designed isn’t it?] (Aleck)

Suppressing her murderous intent towards her brother who readily admitted to his sabotage while denying his murderous actions, Lutra continued to clench her fists.

  [I have never once considered putting your life in jeopardy. Don’t misunderstand me. I’ve only done what I have to, to sabotage you in order to become the king. I still love my younger sister. Once the inheritance ceremony is over, I wholeheartedly wish to return to our former relationship of loving brothers and sisters as well as to compensate for my coldheartedness for our past.] (Aleck)

  [What are you saying. Ever since we were children until now, all you’ve done is get in my way while mocking me, not paying me any heed at all.] (Lutra)

While Lutra firmly denied her brother’s words, it was merely lip service as I felt that somewhere in her heart, she truly wished for her brother’s words to be true.

  [There are two reasons. First, the moment I heard about your disappearance. I truly regretted having our relationship ending like this without having a chance to reconcile and decided that I would speak only the truth once you returned. The second was to solidify my conviction to becoming the king. Would the gentle Lutra from our childhood wholeheartedly dedicate herself to her craft if she knew about my intentions?] (Aleck)

After saying his piece, his brother let out a hearty laugh as Luna and the other girls recoiled in shock. It felt like Lutra’s brother character was much more horrifying than we had heard.

  [It is far too difficult for me to believe any of your words right now. You aren’t the only person vying for the position of the king. I’m sure that our sister has heard of your wrongdoings.] (Lutra)

  [Wrongdoings, me? You’re not wrong in saying that I would have to dirty my hands for our kingdom to strive.] (Aleck)

  [That’s not what I’m referring to. Aniue has changed. You weren’t a person who would succumb to greed and inflict despair onto your people.] (Lutra)

Prince Aleck covered his eyes with his hands before seemingly coming to a conclusion. 

  […. I see. I understand now. It must be Aure. It definitely seems like something she would do. Despicable doesn’t even describe her. Taking advantage of the fact that I intended to avoid a confrontation with you until the ceremony was over. It seems that I still have a long way to go. I was done in quite badly.] (Aleck)

Despite saying such self-deprecating words, Prince Aleck seemed to have an extremely vicious smile.

  [Our story ends here. There’s a carriage waiting outside. Although it’s quite a simple carriage, at the very least it’s ready for a simple parade. Go and reassure the public by showing your face. You are the one who is loved by the public, more so than any of your siblings…. This is another reason why I would never put your life in danger. You, known as the reincarnate of the legendary battle princess Renoir, would be the perfect tool to unify the public under our banner, the ultimate weapon of the Laluzulu Kingdom. It’ll be a waste if anything were to happen to you.] (Aleck)

In such a short amount of time, they worked surprisingly effectively, preparing a parade in this short timeframe. Although he was a prince, he knew perfectly well the limits of his power, grasping the power given by his position and was talented in using other people’s talents as well. He was definitely talented and popular.

In the first place, he would had never prepared the parade if it wasn’t known that the attention between the public and Lutra was mutual…. Is this really the same person who was blinded by his ambition and greed?

Something feels off here. 

Prince Aleck walked in front of me and lowered his head.

  [It’s been a long time, Weakest Strongest Knight, Yuuya Grandwood. Not only have you saved our country in the past, but you have saved my younger sister. As the first prince of the Laluzulu Kingdom, thank you from the bottom of my heart.] (Aleck)

His movements were refined, displaying his position as a prince even in the form of a bow.

  [… I only saved Lutra because I wanted to.] (Yuuya)

  [Even so, I’m grateful. I’m certain that if you weren’t around, then Lutra would most certainly be dead. As expected of her knight. If it’s possible, I hope that you can continue to be by her side.] (Aleck)

  [I’ll think about it.] (Yuuya)

  [I look forward to a favourable response. We’ll prepare the appropriate honor as well as reward.] (Aleck)

  [Prince Aleck. You don’t have to behave respectfully towards me. You are the prince of a country. If you don’t behave so, I’ll be in a bind on how I should behave towards you.] (Yuuya)

  [Isn’t it natural for me to be respectful towards my sister’s benefactor? However, if you say so, I’ll refrain from it…. Now then, shall we head towards the carriage? I’ll be riding the carriage with you so I’ll behave as your guide during the parade since it’ll be travelling around the town. Our castle has enough rooms and plenty of food so please enjoy your stay here until the inheritance ceremony.] (Aleck)

And thus, without being able to come to a conclusion, we headed towards the carriage to begin the parade. The highways were secured by soldiers on both sides, whom illuminated the area with torches in their hands while controlling the crowds of people on the sidewalks.

Whenever Lutra raised her hands, numerous cheers could be heard from the public, displaying how popular she was as the icon of the legendary Renoir. Even I, who was standing next to her was receiving a warm welcome.

It seems that in this short amount of time, rumors were going about that I was one of the heroes who had saved the kingdom in the past and became a knight of the young Princess Lutra. 

The rumors were definitely not wrong, however as rumors often did, it also spread the wrong information around, causing people to think that we were also in love or other things along that setting.

The parade continued until we arrived at a small hill covered with marble walls, the Laluzulu Castle. Although I had expected otherwise, the parade ended at the castle without any incidents. Afterwards, we were invited to dinner and Prince Aleck decided to join us as well.

Although the prince tried to invite the King to dine with us, he refused the invitation due to his ill health and was unable to attend. However, he expressed that he wanted to see to Lutra’s well-being.

As the sudden encounter with the vast public was unexpected, me and Lutra were completely drained as we just hung our heads down. 

As if everyone had noticed that, the meal started immediately as some idle talk began.

After checking for any poison in the food, we received the highest form of hospitality at the dining table with Luna and Til’s manners, or lack-of were being tolerated.

In the midst of the casual chatting, Prince Aleck continued to inquire about the sword and listened attentively whenever I answered , which usually led to even more questions. He even went further as to ask for a sparring session after the ceremony was over. Throughout the conversation, I couldn’t help but feel that the feeling he gave off felt similar to Lutra, raising this uncomfortable feeling in me even higher.

Due to my profession, I’ve seen several dozens to hundreds of people from different backgrounds especially aristocrats as I’ve accepted numerous nominated quests in my previous parties. This in turn made me fairly confident in reading other people’s intentions, however I just couldn’t believe that this prince was actually a malicious person.

Although I didn’t doubt Lutra’s judgement, it still felt something was off.

Since Prince Aleck had taken steps to avoid encountering Lutra, Lutra had only heard of his antics through third parties… Would everything be fine if she just defeated the evil prince? It certainly didn’t feel that way to me, it was as if there was a conspiracy being concocted behind the scenes.

.

.

.

< ??? POV>

It was in the middle of the night as a certain figure sat in one of the luxurious rooms available in the castle, holding a pile of documents. In front of it were people from an information agency. That person was reading the documents provided to it, spending several minutes before opening its mouth.

  [How could this be? Lutra is still alive? Didn’t the report mention that she was eaten by the Starfish Larvae? Could it be that she had actually escaped instead?] (???)

Infuriated by the report, the person began reprimanding the informant.

  [That isn’t the case. The fact that she was eaten by the monster is the truth. As Princess Lutra’s personal knights from her mother’s influence held her in high regard, it was difficult to trust them. We had someone from our department watch over Princess Lutra and witnessed the princess being eaten whole by the monster.] 

  [Based on what you’re saying, are you saying that Yuuya Greenwood cut open the monster’s belly and rescued her?] 

  [Exactly. If it’s that hero then its possible. According to our research, he was someone who had an extremely low status which was his only weakness. However he had discovered a way to overcome even that. On the other hand, his swordsmanship is first hand as he is speculated to be stronger than even the hero Leonard if he possessed an equally high status.] 

The Laluzulu information department was exceptional. Once they knew about the alias of Selene, then it was easy for them to investigate everything that had happened from the beginning.

  [… I have read their track record after Lutra changed her name to Selene. It looks like she has somehow obtained different abilities contrary to her disappearance.] 

The pile of documents in its hands were in fact a list of achievements and quests that were completed by Yuuya’s party, Twilight Home that they received from the guild. Not just that, it also contained the estimates from the materials that their party had gathered from the dungeon.

There were even testimonies from other adventurers. Just by looking at them, their abilities were left completely unnoticed.

Of course this was due to the guild’s policy, preventing any personal information from leaking. However it even had the power to bypass this as the man from the information agency opened his mouth.

  [What’s astounding isn’t the level of skill that party possessed based on their achievements alone.  From various witnesses, it seems that she was being trained by that Yuuya Greenwood.] 

  [The Weakest Strongest Knight that trained the Hero Leonard. If she received his tutoring… Is it safe to assume that she is currently a completely different person?] 

It instinctively turned to the pile of documents

  [Yes. Not only is he the teacher of the hero Leonard, but even other adventurers who received his tutelage went on to become top tier adventurers. However, half way through his career he decided to retire, becoming an exclusive adventurer at Rekusa and raising several exceptional adventurers. He is most likely, undisputed in his ability to raising students. Princess Lutra was already exceptionally talented. It’s scary to think how powerful she has become, becoming a student of that person.] 

  [Good grief. It feels just like a bad joke, having the dropout from the ceremony turned into its number one candidate. The genius meeting a master, could now stand toe to toe to someone who had exclusive access to the castle’s dungeon. We will most likely lose if we fought them head on.]

It crushed the documents within its hands as it began to concoct a plan. It could not let the situation go on as Princess Lutra would be the king at this rate. It wasn’t enough to just work behind the shadows, making their next course of actions simple. 

Elimination.

This time it’ll be done so perfectly that even a miracle won’t help.

There wasn’t time to wait as the ceremony was quickly approaching, they had to move fast however it was difficult to even hinder Princess Lutra right now. That Yuuya Greenwood was defending her.

On the other hand, the castle was it’s garden. It alone was more than enough to control Princess Lutra.

Now then, it’s time to begin.

In order to become the country’s ruler, and to fulfill its goal.

< End Of Chapter>

Hope you enjoy the start of Volume 4’s main arc. I’ll be releasing more chapters next week, most likely one chapter every two days or more if I can get them done in time. As always, do let me know if the chapters needs to be edited or if its sloppy.

I do apologise for the sudden change in theme as I was fooling around with wordpress’s settings and accidentally changed it. The site is long due for a revamp but I’ve been kinda avoiding it since I have zero knowledge of web design. It’ll probably happen sometime soon or I may just create a whole new site instead.

Chapter 12: The Old Man heads towards the capital.

As expected of the Paradise Meat, ingredients as delicious as this was hard to come by.

If there were to be another meat that surpassed this, it would either be another unique meat, or meat of any category that exceeded the Excellent quality, the Special quality.

Special quality meats could only be dropped from monsters in the late level 40s and even then, only a small portion was dropped. Even for me, I’ve only come across it a handful number of times. This time however with Luna, it could be a reasonable goal to strive for as feeding her more delicious meat could be good for her growth.

My skin felt much tighter than usual, due to the effects of the Paradise Bird.

Currently we had already cleared out our campsite and began our exploration for the day.

  [Paradise Bird is the best! Luna wants to eat more!] (Luna)

  [Uhn uhn. This is addictive… Fufufufu, we’ll have to hunt as much as possible before returning today. We have to get some today!] (Til)

  [Kyu!] (Erik)

Luna and Til were burning with motivation.

If they are this passionate then I’m looking forward to the results of today’s hunt.

  [Luna-chan. Til. The Paradise Meat is delicious but the truth is, there are also other unique meats just like it. At our level, we may come across them if we’re lucky. Instead of hoping to come across the Paradise Meat, it might be better to focus on searching for other delicious meat instead. ] (Phil)

Luna and Til’s eyes began to shimmer at the prospect of Phil’s words.

  [Uhn! Definitely will eat more delicious food. We’ve eaten a delicious chicken meat so next time we’ll eat a delicious beef!] (Luna)

  [Not just meat, what about delicious vegetables! There should be some that exist right!] (Til)

It seems that Til’s imagination began running wild at the prospects of unknown food.

Several items came to mind at the two girls’ proclamation. For pork, there was the Pearl Pig while there was the Silk Cow for beef. These two were also famous for their unique meat. For fruits there was the Golden Mango. Each and everyone of these ingredients were considered exquisite cuisine.

  [There are many of them. For meat, vegetables and fruits. Every single one of them were highly valued on the market and only a small portion of the wealthy were capable of obtaining it. Unless you were one of them, your only option would be to find the item yourself. It might be much more interesting to travel and find them in my opinion.] (Yuuya)

  [Luna wants to do it. I’m look forward to it.] (Luna)

  [My bow will pierce any prey I see!] (Til)

After completing our errands in the Laluzulu Kingdom, we’ll be heading to a town further north called Dirupusuno(ディルプスノー) to create Luna’s new weapon. That town contains several intermediate and advanced dungeons as well as one possible unique meat drop. However the dungeons were difficult to explore and the drop rate of items there were horrendous. As a result, the unique meat’s existence itself was unknown to the public, making its taste a complete mystery.

Even in my case, I only knew about its existence by looking through the list of items in the game although I had merely glanced across its name. Its taste was still a complete mystery however its name sounded delicious. Since we’re heading towards Dirupusuno, it could be a good target to keep in mind.

  [Now let’s end this conversation here. Other adventurers might be able to access this area anytime now. Let’s hunt the monsters until then!] (Yuuya)

Everyone replied energetically.

Hunting monsters in this Bonus Stage will increase our levels quickly.

Let’s do our best.

.

.

Afterwards, we continued to hunt Paradise Birds using Luna’s Presence Detection. Although there were various other monsters deeper into the Bonus Stage, there weren’t any monsters which could pose a serious threat to us. 

We continued to hunt monsters until day break and as a result, everyone’s level increased by one thanks to the experience gained from the Temple of the Primal Flame and defeating flocks of Paradise Birds.

Normally, it would take a month to get to the next level making our leveling speed extraordinarily quick.

And..

  [Big catch, big catch!] (Luna)

  [Fu~Fun, this must be a Paradise Bird festival!] (Til)

Thanks to Luna’s Increased Drop Rate, defeating a large number of Paradise Birds would statistically get us a higher than average amount of Paradise Meat. Furthermore, storing the meat into the magic bag prevents the meat’s condition from deteriorating, allowing us to enjoy the Paradise Meat for a long time.

  [Phil, although making soup broth with the meat is delicious, it looks like we’ll be able to experiment a lot.] (Yuuya)

  [It might be a good idea to make skewers with it and grill it over a bonfire with some salt. The idea of chewing its tender meat filled with juices sounds delicious.] (Phil)

Til stomach began to grumble as she became hungry just from listening to Phil’s recipe. Such was Til as she naturally made everyone laugh by her actions.

  [It’s about time for us to return to the town. Beyond this jungle is the magic vortex for us to return.] (Yuuya)

We also came across several treasure chests that spawned at fixed locations.

In the end, there weren’t any other adventurers who came to the Bonus Stage.

It seems that the adventurers in Grannel didn’t know the method to going past the cliff. Until now I’ve had the assumption that the number of people who knew about the gimmicks was not zero however it seems that the gimmick has been left entirely untouched. Otherwise this amazing hunting ground would have been monopolized.

The monsters in this area were weak and unable to attack from the top of the cliff.

Furthermore the item drops from the monster was expensive and provided a large amount of experience. The desire of monopolizing this area couldn’t be light as even though we were planning on leaving this city, I had the intention of leaving the day after the monsters were respawned. Although this wasn’t possible given our short time frame.

[Yuuya, I found a new monster! It’s huge, probably a rhinoceros.] (Luna)

Luna raised her voice as she warned us about our upcoming opponent, the rhinoceros-type monster. In this dungeon, this monster would be the most troublesome opponent to defeat.

I’ll have to sharpen my mind for this battle.

.

.

.

Several days have passed since we arrived at Grannel as it was already time for our departure.

Although we weren’t able to gain any levels since the second day, we did manage to complete several quests, earning us a hefty sum of guild points and a heavy wallet.

Despite extending our stay in Grannel to experience the town entirely while spending luxuriously, our financial gain was still positive. 

Aside from the first day, we explorations were only light journeys into the dungeons as I decided on spending more time for Selene’s training.

In the final sprint before her ceremony, it seems that Selene had managed to overcome a wall as she had become significantly stronger.

The date for her inheritance ceremony was only three days away as I hurriedly received my Raptors from the stables and connected them to the carriage.

[Everyone please get on the carriage.] (Yuuya)

Luna and Til who were desperately cherishing their final memories of Grannel by stuffing their mouths full of onigiris, climbed onto the carriage followed by the smiling Phil and Selene who were looking tenderly over the eating duo.

[Is everyone ready?] (Yuuya)

[Uhn. Completely ready.] (Luna)

[Me too.] (Til)

[I don’t have any issues departing right away.] (Selene)

[Everything is prepared here as well. Let’s depart immediately.] (Phil)

I pulled onto Raptor’s reins as we finally departed from Grannel.

Although our stay here was short, we had accomplished many things here.

I can confidently raise my head high, knowing that I’ve done all I can before the inheritance ceremony.

.

.

.

We managed to arrive at the Laluzulu Royal Capital before sundown.

Since it was the Royal Capital, the security was naturally tight as the tall outer wall even bordered around the outer city. Not only does the wall look sturdy, it was enhanced by magic as well. There were also sentries armed with bows keeping watch on top of the wall.

I got off the carriage, heading towards the gatekeeper to perform the procedure to gain entry into the city.

[Could you show me your entry permit please.] (Guard)

[Is this sufficient?] (Yuuya)

I displayed my status as a silver-grade adventurer.

[A silver-grade adventurer? I apologise. Normally we would have granted you entry however the day of our kingdom’s inheritance ceremony is nearing. In this period, you will need an official permit to enter the city.] (Guard)

The guard shook his head as he failed to grant me entry into the city. I hadn’t account for the fact that the security would be tightened as the ceremony date was approaching.

As I turned back to the carriage, I saw Selene who began to approach the gate. At the same time, a second gatekeeper appeared behind the first.

It was a man who seemed significantly older as he was out of breath just from running over.

[Wait a moment. That man, is the person that holds the title of the weakest strongest knight. One of the heroes who saved the kingdom from danger and Princess Lutra’s knight, Yuuya-sama! You have to stop him from leaving!] (Old guard)

This voice sounds familiar..

[Miruno is that you?] (Yuuya)

[Ouhh I can’t believe you actually remembered my name ] (Miruno)

[There’s no way I would forget a brother-in-arms.] (Yuuya)

Although us adventurers played a major party in saving the kingdom, the soldiers and knights of the kingdom had contributed to the battle greatly as well. And this man was one of them.

[Thank you for your kind words. Although you were a brilliant forerunner on the battlefield, your feats on the stage were considered a legend. Especially in the finals! Until this day, people including I boast about having fought by your side.] (Miruno)

Roused by the commotion, several knights at the rear began to notice us and started to gather as they started to mutter, ‘The weakest strongest knight?’, ‘ the man who taught the hero Leonard?’, ‘the man whose sword surpasses that of heroes?’.

Things along those lines were being said which was supposed to be flattery felt a lot more like harassment as I became uncomfortable with the situation.

  [… In any case, would I be able to cross the gate?] (Yuuya)

  [Of course you can! Is what I want to say but I lack the authority to do so. Could you please wait a moment while I go ahead to receive permission from my superiors.Having Yuuya-sama return to the capital brings tears to my eyes. There is no greater shame as the one who waited the most eagerly for your return, Princess Lutra isn’t here with us anymore.] (Marino)

  [What happened to Princess Lutra?] (Yuuya)

  [She entered a dungeon in another city together with her personal bodyguard. However she went missing as well as her bodyguard. A search team was sent out but to no avail.] (Marino)

As expected, Selene’s whereabouts were unknown to the capital however I was extremely curious about the aforementioned knight. It sounded like the knight was forcefully eliminated to prevent any information from leaking. For the time being, I decided to wait patiently for the decision from the guards as Selene walked to my side and pulled onto my sleeve. She spoke at a volume where only I could hear it.

  [Are you fine with that Selene?] (Yuuya)

  [Yes I am. Regardless I was planning on making contact once we entered the city. In that case, wouldn’t it be better to do it here?] (Selene)

Selene’s words were definitely correct as it would be much easier for us to do it here since it’ll make the higher up’s decision much smoother.

Selene walked to the front as some whispers could be heard. As expected of the royal capital, even without her signature hair there were many people who recognised Selene’s… I mean Princess Lutra’s face.

  [Is it possible, could you be?] 

  [She was supposed to be missing.] 

  [But the hair colour isn’t right. Princess Lutra’s hair was supposed to be the same as Renoir-sama’s.] 

Selene let out a smile befitting of a princess that she didn’t show around us. A soft and beautiful smile which radiated gentleness to everyone around her. This forcefully reminded me that Selene was truly a princess. While smiling, Selene gracefully removed her hair ornament responsible of changing her hair colour, revealing her beautiful silver hair. Even though she was a bonafide beauty with her black hair, her natural silver hair suited her much more.

  [Tell my father and my elder brother. With her personal knight, Princess Lutra has returned. With the intention of participating in the succession ceremony.] (Lutra)

Selene had completely shed her disguise, returning to her original role as Princess Lutra.

The gatekeepers’ reactions were all over the place as some of them were crying tears of joy knowing that she was safe and sound,  several had their bodies turning stiff from shock and there were those who nodded in response and began running to fulfill their princess’s orders.

The die has been cast with this as the battle for the inheritance has begun. From this point on, there will be obstacles appearing in her way as her enemies attempt to prevent her from standing on the stage.

And I’ll be there to prevent that from happening.

I am her knight after all.

<End of Chapter>

This chapter was completed during my free time in work so please do let me know if it could be improved on.

Enjoy~

Chapter 11: The old man is requested.

My initial plan was to set up camp in the jungle next to the cliff and wait for the rain in order to climb the cliff using a gimmick.  We had no reason to return home as the hunting ground was right in front of our eyes.

A large number of Paradise Birds lived in the area beyond the cliffs and they were well known for their meat which was known to be so delicious that you’ll be sent straight to paradise. Additionally, their experience value was equally as high. Just defeating one of them provided a large amount of experience. Hence this area was dubbed the Bonus Stage in the game.

It may even be possible for us to raise our levels sometime today or tomorrow.

As a camping ground, there wasn’t a place any better than this deeper into the dungeon as there weren’t any other monsters here apart from the Paradise Bird. Furthermore, we didn’t have to worry about other adventurers in the area as we were the only people who had access to this area.

Trying to solve a mystery in the midst of a harsh squall when you could barely see anything in front of you, especially when the mystery was hidden on the cliff. It was something which could only be discovered if you had prior information about it which made this situation somewhat expected. 

…. Although this time, the gimmick was bypassed by Phil’s ridiculous archery skills. A feat that could not be replicated by any other archer. 

 

  [Meat! Meat!] (Luna)

  [Onee-chan. Hurry hurry!] (Til)

Luna and Til were making a ruckus while Phil began her cooking. Phil began unwrapping the Paradise Meat covered in bamboo skins. As she started to unwrap the meat, a delicious smell began spreading through the area. A strange smell that was uniquely delicious, as if the blood itself was sweet but there was no trace of decay in it at all.

 

  [The meat looks so beautiful! Luna wants to eat it now.] (Luna)

 

The colour of the meat was a beautiful ruby red, the skin was extremely glossy while the fat was thick and appetizing.

 

  [Please wait for a moment. I’ll begin cooking right away. I’ll prepare it the way Yuuya taught me to.. However I don’t have much confidence if it’ll be that good, making a broth without any stock.] (Phil)

 

Phil placed the Paradise Meat into a pan, lightly frying it as she began boiling a pot of water. Then, she placed several wild herbs into the pot before cutting the meat into bite-sized chunks and throwing them into the pot. Normally, Phil would prepare her broth by using several dried mushrooms. However, since we were using the Paradise Meat this time, she had skipped over this step. 

It was said that the delicious soup made from the Paradise Meat would be ruined if other ingredients were added in excessively. Phil continued to watch the fire while carefully removing the skum from the top of the liquid.

 

  [Yuuya, Yuuya. The delicious smell is getting stronger!] (Luna)

  [I know right. I can’t wait to eat it.] (Til)

 

Luna and Til continued to stare into the pot as they noticed the fragrance of the soup. Luna’s fox tail was rapidly wagging back and forth while the tip of Til’s elven ears began to turn red. Just the fragrance of the soup alone were making these two children go crazy. 

After deeming the meat to be cooked, Phil placed a piece of meat into her mouth as a test. The scene of Phil’s entire body stiffening as she touched her lips with the tip of her finger felt strangely erotic.

A moment after, Phil’s consciousness returned as she proceeded to test the taste of the soup.

Luna and Til became even more curious about the taste but Phil merely smiled playfully in response. The only thing I could decipher was that it tasted extremely delicious. Furthermore, the fact that the food-loving Phil had only added salt after her taste-test was a testament that the soup tasted perfectly fine.

Our expectations for the soup had risen to its peak.

 

  [It’s ready now. Please take out the kitchenware.] (Phil)

 

It was finally time for dinner. We can finally taste the Paradise Meat.

 

.

.

.

 

Dinner finally began as a large bowl filled with vegetables and Paradise Meat and another pot of soup was placed on the table.

 

  [My stomach has been starving!] (Luna)

  [Uhn uhn, my stomach is running empty now too. I wonder if we’ll actually go to paradise?] (Til)

  [Let’s start our meal before it turns cold.] (Selene)

  [Please do so while it’s hot. You’ll be surprised once you taste it.] (Phil)

 

The girls began chatting as I decided to start the meal with the soup.

The soup made from the meat of the Paradise Bird and wild herbs produced a rich taste as the flavor of the meat and melted fat in the soup spread throughout my mouth.

Not only was it delicious, but it was an amazing tonic for the human body as well. As I was resisting the temptation to drink the soup in one go, a piece of meat accidentally entered my mouth. I felt the tenderness of the meat as more of the meat’s juices flowed out with each bite, spreading the taste of the skin and fat throughout my entire mouth.

I couldn’t help but agree with the ingredient’s ridiculously high price as this was a taste that the wealthy would travel just to have a glimpse of.

 

  [Delicious! Luna thought that beef and pork were more delicious than chicken but, this chicken is special!] (Luna)

  [I know right. Meat was delicious too but its my first time drinking such a delicious soup! I wanna drink more!] (Til)

 

Luna and Til were stuck together as they emptied their bowls and presenting it to Phil.

 

  [Seconds! More soup please!] (Luna & Til)

 

They were perfectly in sync as they asked for seconds. Their large appetites wasn’t anything new as they were two growing children.

 

  [I’m fine with seconds, however remember that there won’t be enough soup for later if we drink it all now. We won’t be able to try the delicious porridge that Yuuya told us about.] (Phil)

  [Uuwuu, lesser soup then.] (Luna)

  [Even though I would like more soup, I’ll endure it for more delicious food!] (Til)

 

Phil let out a wry smile as she took out a large serving of vegetables and meat.

However, the food didn’t last long as Til and Luna began gobbling down the food once more.

Would they even be able to eat the porridge after this?

As I turned to the other side of the table, Selene was done with her first serving without asking for a second serving as the matter about the porridge was brought up.

I wonder if it was okay to mention about the porridge.

 

  [This soup is superb. Although the Paradise Meat was served to the royal family several times..  This tastes much more delicious.] (Selene)

  [Of course, compared to a suffocating meal in the palace, it’s much more enjoyable to eat with your friends. Plus I’m sure the cooks were stressed preparing meals for the royal family making it difficult to serve a dish as plain as this. For this dish especially, it’ll taste much better without any excess preparations.] (Yuuya)

  [It’s just as Yuuya said. As a chef this dish induces anxiety into me as it feels unsettling to serve a dish with so little preparation. Even now I have the feeling that I should have done more for the dish.] (Phil)

 

Regardless, even the stock for a normal soup base is excessive when dealing with this dish.

Thanks to the two gluttons, our soup became devoid of meat and vegetables as it was finally time for the main dish. Phil began pouring the rice into the pot of soup as the rice began to swell with the boiling soup. As the soup continued to boil, it gradually grew thicker as its delicious smell became even stronger.

The sound of someone swallowing their saliva could be heard as we were finally able to have a porridge made with a stock made of Paradise Meat.

Without anyone saying anything, Phil began preparing several bowls of porridge and handed them out as everyone began their second round of food. 

No one said a single word as everyone was relentlessly gobbling up their food and in no time at all, everyone’s bowls became empty.

 

  [Fuu, so this is the porridge made with Paradise Meat.. It’s even better than I expected.] (Yuuya)

 

Just this one dish was filled with all sorts of flavors.

Even if it was just a normal soup, it was still a perfect match for the freshly harvested rice from Grannel that I couldn’t get away from.

 

  [It was delicious! Luna is going to paradise!] (Luna)

  [Me too! Heading to paradise isn’t just a saying. It’s so delicious that it feels so good as if I’m in heaven.] (Til)

  [This makes me wonder just what kind of cook prepared the soup I’ve eaten till now.] (Selene)

  [It’s a shame that we don’t have seconds. However we do have some meat leftovers so we’ll be able to enjoy a good meal tomorrow.] (Phil)

 

We’ll be able to indulge ourselves tomorrow too. 

However, there are still other dishes planned for tomorrow as this soup was capable of drawing out the hidden flavors of the Paradise Meat. The true charm of this soup has yet to be seen.

After eating such delicious porridge, the atmosphere felt lighter as everyone became excited.

Furthermore, even though Phil said that we had meat leftovers for tomorrow, she proceeded to present a lean cut of meat from the Paradise Bird that she secretly prepared. It was presented as a steak cooked rare with a special sauce which caused me to crave for sake.

It was going to be an enjoyable supper although people avoided late night food while camping out.

This was the luxury of a safe zone in the dungeon.

 

.

.

.

 

Since a squall was going to arrive, we proceeded to enjoy the supper in our tent.

With the Paradise Meat which could be eaten raw, when cooked rare with a delicious sauce it’s delicious meat presented a taste that could only be tasted with a high quality of meat.

Currently, the two girls were asleep as they both had a weak alcohol tolerance.

They each had extremely blissful sleeping faces while Phil began preparing another tent for Luna and the girls tonight, leaving me alone with Selene.

 

  [Selene, there’s something I want to ask. Is your elder brother strong?] (Yuuya)

 

If possible I would like to know about my enemy before the actual battle.

 

  [He’s very strong. He too received training with the stone from a young age and his level might even be higher than mine currently. Furthermore he had a good battle sense with smart intellect. He was someone I had idolized in the past.] (Selene)

It was surprising to hear that Selene had idolized her brother in the past. According to her, if her brother was to gain control over the Laluzulu Kingdom, the people would definitely suffer and thus she planned to challenge him for the right to the throne in order to pass it to her sister.

 

  [If he was someone you had idolised in the past, then wouldn’t it be fine to leave the kingdom to him? That way you’ll be able to leave your kingdom in good hands while remaining in our party, for most likely the rest of your life? The Selene I’m seeing now looks much better than Princess Lutra from before.] (Yuuya)

  [Fuu, that sounds plausible. I would definitely be happy if I could do that. However, my brother who was kind-hearted to everyone including me, has changed. Several years ago, rumors about his self-centered shenanigans had spread throughout the kingdom, replacing his initially pleasant reputation. Then, he began keeping his distance from me. My brother who was filled with greed and an obsession for power, began to respite me, who was born as the splitting image of Renoir-sama with her signature silver hair.] (Selene)

 

Selene looked into the distance with melancholic eyes as she began talking about her brother.

 

  [For better or for worse, people change. I’m sure you’re still harboring hope that he’ll return to his old self. If that’s the case, then I’m sure he will return one day. However, there’s something strange. Is his level really higher than your current level? Furthermore isn’t the training he received the same training you did?] (Yuuya)

 

Ever since Selene joined our party, we began raising our levels several times faster than an ordinary adventurer which was why it’s surprising that her level was still inferior to his.

 

  [Me and my brother are the same and yet we’re different. My mother was a concubine. After my brother left me, my brother could access the royal family’s dungeon and proceeded to receive training from the royal knights. On the other hand, I could only rely on my mother’s side for training and the only dungeons I had access to were the public dungeons.] (Selene)

 

I hadn’t realise that Selene had such a complicated family situation. This explained why we found her hunting inside Greenwood. Just as she mentioned, it was known that the royal family had an exclusive dungeon which could let you hunt to your heart’s content without dealing with other adventurers. In terms of experience, it was an excellent dungeon as well. Furthermore, he was taught by the royal knights who belonged to a family specialized in their sword skills, who carefully refined their sword over several generations.

 

  [He definitely sounds formidable. The other party has so many advantages over our side. However, there’s something else I want to ask, is this instructor, the royal knight better than me?] (Yuuya)

  [Fufu that’s not true at all. Yuuya-ojisama is the number one instructor in the world.] (Selene)

 

Selene let out a small laugh in response, displaying her beauty and her charm as a woman. Luna and Til were both cute girls however, in her case she was the definition of beauty.

 

  [I pray for Selene’s victory. Selene will win the succession ceremony, and I’ll win the knight’s tournament and become the strongest knight. That is the reason why we’re heading towards the Laluzulu Kingdom.] (Yuuya)

 

That was what I decided. And I will do everything in my power to make that happen.

 

  [… Ever since I decided to fight my brother, I’ve never been able to sleep. Regardless of how exhausted I was, just thinking about the future makes me anxious. But the moment I met Yuuya-ojisama again, I’ve started to sleep again. My anxiety seemed to just melt away.] (Selene)

  [That is the confidence having a good teacher can give you.] (Yuuya)

  [It isn’t just from a teacher. It isn’t just that. It’s because it’s Yuuya-ojisama that I can rest easy.  Yuuya-ojisama. If I were to say my true feelings after everything is over, would you answer me?] (Selene)

 

Selene closed the distance between us as a sweet smell wafted past my nose, however it was also a smell of reason.

 

  [I..] (Yuuya)

 

At that moment, the sound of footsteps began to approach as Phil was done setting up the tent for Luna and Til.

 

  [Half of it was a joke. Half of it was serious, and the other half… was serious too. However, I don’t have the intention of troubling Yuuya-ojisama. It’s about time for me to head to the other tent.] (Selene)

 

Selene and Phil grabbed Luna and Til respectively and carried the two of them to the other tent.

… Sigh this is bad for my heart. That small princess Lutra has become a fully grown woman.

I felt like I was becoming old as I emptied another cup of sake.

It’s about time for us to head to bed. I should focus on everything I can do right now and focus on raising our levels by hunting tomorrow.

That is all that is on my mind now.

<End of Chapter>

I apologise for the sloppy previous edit. I’ve re-edited the chapter and hopefully its readable this time.