After arriving at Amar and making plans for dinner with Sharle-san, I visited the Marida Company’s merchant ship.
“Make yourself comfortable, customer.”
I was guided to the upper deck. There, it was a little more than a one-room office with simple partitions to separate the room. We stopped in the section that seemed to be the reception space and fruit juice was served. I then talked to Bolroy-san in regards to my objective of coming here. I then asked for information on the pirates and the state of the city’s fleet.
“Did you actually come all the way here from Barga to help crush the pirates? We really could use some help with them resuming their activities and all, but aren’t customers a landlubber? Do you have any experience in naval battles?”
“That’s not important. First of all, please give me the information regarding the base and sizes of both the escort fleet and the pirates.”
“But that’s very important…”
The escort fleet of Amar wasn’t in any better condition than from what I’ve heard already. Not only was there a considerable decrease in their count due to the previous battle years ago, but the flagship hadn’t been decided either. The current fleet commander was a man named Reizen Drumo, the eldest son of the Viscount Drumo family. One of the two families with major influence in the city. Reizen was still in his twenties, and although he had promising talent, he still couldn’t get past his own childishness sometimes.
It was said that the recon team would return to the city by days end. The first fleet would depart to subjugate the pirates based on the information the recon team obtained.
Next was the pirates. Amar’s main maritime trade partner was the collection of islands that made up the Filtonia Islands’ Alliance. They could be reached with a two week voyage to the south. Along the route, there were several uninhabited islands that acted as relay points. These were what was said to be the territory of the pirate group Kaidou.
It was apparently known that their base was on one of the islands near the relay point. Many investigation teams had been sent, but other than the obvious obstructions from Kaidou, they couldn’t get through the reefs that stretched between the islands. Suffice to say that their missions hadn’t gone well…
Kaidou… It was the kind of small tree that bore beautiful pink flowers that also sometimes developed into a small apple-like fruit…
After our conversation, Bolroy-san invited me to dinner, but I declined as I had made an appointment with Sharle-san. I promised him I’d accept his offer tomorrow though. As I walked toward the Seaside Lighthouse where I’d been booked a room, I started to devise my next move.
There were several options I could take…
Join Ashley, and subdue the pirates Kaidou under her banner…
Meet Ashley, confirm her fleet, and move along to provide assistance covertly…
Or, go straight to the said island alone, find the pirates, and crush them…
The third option was a no go. There was just too many factors that’d go wrong, and if I wanted to maximize my strength… The second option would be my best bet…. While I considered my options, I stopped to enjoy the sunset on the horizon. That was when I saw a mother and her child. They must have stopped to watch it as well…
“Mama, sister’s ship didn’t return today either…”
“Indeed… Hopefully she’ll return tomorrow…”
“Un! Shall we pick her up tomorrow?”
“Sure, let’s come back tomorrow…”
The damage caused by the Kaidou pirates was not limited to cargo and money. It also included people. I previously thought that the Kurtmerga Kingdom was a relatively peaceful one, aside from banditry and labyrinths. Basic human rights were protected in every city, despite the considerable gap between the rich and the poor. However, it wasn’t like this situation was spread around the world. After I talked with Malta-san and Bolroy-san, I came to know the origin of this country.
In the picture book that Ashley read before, it was said that this country was built by an adventurer with the help to help the oppressed. Then, how would he achieve that? Of course, by liberating slaves. The country was actually built with the help of those who wished it abolished. Therefore, there were no slaves within this kingdom. And there was no tendency to discriminate against other races, let alone enslave them.
But it was no small effort in doing that for the king. How could he truly liberate these people? From a standpoint, how can one truly release someone from being a family member of a former slave? The answer laid with the present kingdom.
With no slaves within the country, and human trafficking heavily prohibited, the country did not recognize the word slave. It did not teach it, and prohibited its use. With years of these, the concept of slavery itself had disappeared. Of course, it wasn’t perfect. There were still brothels where people sold their bodies. Sometimes against their will. However, the country still succeeded in erasing the word ‘slave’ from its people’s minds.
Even so, that only applied to this kingdom. THe Filtonia Islands’ Alliance held no such policy in regard to slavery. And some countries to the north enforced large scale slavery due to their harsh environment. And then, the pirates also kidnapped people from the ships they attacked. It was still unknown which route they’d take, and where these people would be sent. There was no doubt that taking slaves was one of their main goals.
Looking at the duo’s figures from behind, I was reminded of the damage the pirates caused…
I arrived at the Seaside Lighthouse, confirmed my room and located my room before I headed to Sharle-san’s parents’ mansion. From the coastline, I climbed the slope until I saw the red-roofed mansion surrounded by trees. It was not as big as Duke Barga’s estate, just a tad smaller, and it gave off a detached feeling similar to the inn I stayed in with Lapitirica-sama in Veneer.
There were two guards at its front gate, each wearing the same leather guard as the ones outside the city gate – could they also be city guards?
“Halt! This is the residence of the Zephanel Family. Are you visiting, or is there something else we can help with?”
Zephanel, huh… ALthough it’s a paper-thin disguise, Sharle-san still was a noble. And a Zephanel too at that… Don’t tell me… She’s Ashley’s younger sister?
“I’m D-ranked adventurer Schwartz, here on Charlotte-sama’s invitation for dinner. I’d be pleased if you let me through.”
“Let me confirm it, please wait a moment.”
One of the gatekeepers ran into the mansion. Meanwhile, I asked the other gatekeeper.
“Has Ashley Zephanel-sama already returned?”
“Nn? Ashley-sama is not here yet. She is always the slowest one. I believe she won’t make it for dinner at this rate.”
“I see. That’s a shame.”
That other gatekeeper came back, along with a stately mannered old man; Presumably a butler, who stood by the front door. Noticing my gaze, the old man slowly bent his hip and bowed his head.
“It’s been confirmed. You can enter.”
The butler kept his head bowed until I reached the front door.
“D-rank adventurer Schwartz here.”
“Welcome. My name is Lester, Zephanel family’s head butler. Schwartz-sama, please, through here.”
Guided by Lester-san, I entered the residence.