Chapter 1 – Reconnaissance and Special Food Procurement Mission

 

 


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A small magic airship left the Baumeister Earldom, heading westwards. This ship had been excavated from an underground ruin under Arnest’s guidance. The royal family had permitted the Baumeister House to run it, resulting in the ship being added to the Baumeister Earldom’s feudal army.

An air fleet considered to belong to the demon country had suddenly appeared at the Terra Harrez Archipelago, an island chain located west off Holmia’s coast, and occupied that area. In response the Margrave Holmia House was now preparing for war.

Currently we were traveling to that margraviate in order to reinforce the margrave and his forces. However, the demons were building a temporary base on one island of the Terra Harrez Archipelago, making it an emergency. Because of that, almost none of the reinforcements brought ground forces with them, I hear.

The higher-ups of the royal army judged that a genuine invasion of the Holmia Margraviate itself was rather unlikely, so neither the Kingdom nor us dispatched any ground forces. Both of us are going to mostly provide magicians and air forces.

Had we dispatched regular military troops, the one receiving the reinforcements would need to make certain preparations, too. The side sending the reinforcements had the duty to cover their soldiers’ expenses, but if many soldiers had to be fed with food in the west, it’d hike up food prices and it’d likely be difficult to secure the necessary amount of provisions.

And even without us sending our ground forces, the western lords are currently under martial law, urged to mobilize their feudal armies. The supply of their troops will take the highest priority.

The Kingdom’s west sported the biggest grain-producing areas within the realm, but given that it was indispensable for the west to export their grain to other areas in the Kingdom on top of filling up their own storages, they didn’t really have that much leeway.

For this reason, it was decided to limit the dispatch of ground forces as much as possible…in what you’d basically call a tacit understanding. Or in other words, they’re telling me to guess as much myself since I’m a noble.

“Hmm, turning a magic airship into a creche is an amazing idea.”

“Well, it’s a stopgap measure since all the mobilized female magicians of the Baumeister Earldom are young mothers.”

The ship had picked up Doushi and Burkhart-san at Breitburg. Both blinked their eyes in surprise when they saw a magic airship having been changed into a child-care station. Taking one’s children along to what might become a battlefield being unprecedented…wasn’t actually true.

Even in the past, some female magicians had taken their children along to their army’s encampments during wartimes.

“It does require diapers and baby goods as supply.”

“We brought enough with us.”

And not only that. We’ve also prepared the goods necessary for the maids under Dominique who were helping out with the baby-care.

“You’re not going to resupply at Holmialand, the central city of Holmia Margravate, then?”

“We won’t get close to that city…”

Minister Edgar had contacted us, informing us that we are to directly head to the western Port City Sirius, the city closest to the archipelago and home of Holmia’s naval forces.

“Well, you see, I’m just worried and concerned that you might earn yourself some criticism if you don’t splurge a bit by buying bigger chunks.”

The majority of nobles was a lot stingier than you’d expect from them, but if they departed to another noble’s territory, they’d generously spend their money. The biggest reason was prestige, but another reason might be found in the attempt to lower the amount of money spent in another noble’s territory as much as possible.

Burkhart-san must be worried about me as I didn’t do any of that.

“He is going to spend money in Sirius anyway. Besides, we are practically at war right now, so all the little society games can wait for later!”

It’s just as Doushi says. Right now, the Kingdom is in a state of 『Quasi-War』. The sole reason why it still had a “quasi” attached to it lay in us not having grasped the demons’ objective so far, and the residents of Holmia Margraviate not having suffered direct damage, despite the demons occupying the archipelago, since the islands were uninhibited, so it wasn’t necessary to urgently counterattack.

However, because the demons could attack at any moment, we had to get ready for interception either way. Depending on the situation, the Kingdom might also order us to recapture the archipelago. In such a case, it’d lead to tremendous expenses as infantrymen would be gathered from all over the Kingdom. Accordingly, the Kingdom only sent a select few such as magic airships and magicians to the Holmia Margravate as reinforcement.

“We will leave the guidance within Sirius to you two, Burkhart-san, Doushi.”

Previously I had heard that both often stayed in the west during their active days as adventurers. Since they should have visited Sirius as well, they’d be naturally suited to serve as our guides.

“You can count on me!”

“I don’t mind, but wouldn’t Erwin be more suited here, seeing how he was born in the west?” Burkhart-san advised.

“Burkhart-san, I never left my family’s territory until I came to Breitburg, so it’ll be impossible for me. I never went to Sirius or Holmialand neither.”

“Really?”

“I can’t use magic, so my means of travel are limited.”

Because Erw also hails from a poor Knight family, I doubt he went on trips in the past. At most, it should have been outings like picnics in the Arnim Knightdom and its circumference.

“Erw, where’s the Arnim Knightdom located anyway?”

“Towards the western edge of the margraviate. It’s surrounded by mountains and extremely rural,” Erw explained in response to Ina’s question.

According to him, the Arnim Knightdom was a typical hinterland territory, but since you could reach a somewhat bigger town if you followed a mountain road for around a day, it was still better off than the Baumeister Knightdom.

“Erw, are we going to run into your father and brothers are Sirius?”

“Who knows? I think they’ve been mobilized as a vassal of Margrave Holmia’s vassal, but I don’t know where they’ve been stationed.”

Because we were at a critical juncture where the demons could attack the western territories, Erw’s family should have dispatched its soldiers, too. It was unthinkable that Margrave Holmia wouldn’t order them to send their troops.

However, it’s also possible that adding such small, untrained forces into the defense forces might become a drawback instead. The unskilled and untrained feudal armies would get in the way of the trained elites.

I don’t know anything about the skill level of Margrave Holmia’s forces, but no matter what you say, they were still the army under one of the three margrave houses. It’d be ludicrous to think that they were less skilled than the feudal troops of the Arnim Knightdom.

“If you add clumsy, untrained folks and cause chaos within the ranks, it’ll lead to the collapse of the whole army. Aren’t they simply guarding some place?” Erw asked.

I had witnessed many such cases during the Empire’s civil war. An army isn’t just about the numbers.

For that reason, such troops are often deployed as guards of supply or transport units. And even if they considered whining about such deployment, they’d need to face a margrave. As it’d be impossible for any lower noble to speak up here, they’ll very likely do as ordered, even if reluctantly.

“Life sure is tough.”

“A place like ours is still better off than your old home, Wend. If we take the family affluence into account, my family’s equal to Ina and Luise’s, I’d say.”

Poor knights were often inferior to the chief retainers of high-ranking nobles when it came to economic power. Officially, master-servant-relationships don’t exist among nobles, but in reality, it was impossible for Erw’s father to defy Margrave Holmia.

“For a tiny noble that might actually be welcome.”

“Maybe, but won’t they itch to make an appearance at the front line, since they’re nobles, even if insignificant ones?”

In case of a war, such nobles always want to get in the front line to wield their sword. This stemmed from all the stories and historical records of cool nobles who made names for themselves through their heroic achievements on the battlefields, but if a family head did something like that and died during the campaign, sorting out the succession would take time. Moreover, the economical output of the territory also drops with each lost soldier as most of them are normal inhabitants of the fief.

In reality, they might wish to be deployed in the rear, if possible.

“Anyway, I don’t want us to meet my old man or my brothers. They’d only cause trouble to Wend.”

For a long time now, some people have been believing that they’d be able to score important posts at the Earl Baumeister House through Erw’s connections. From Erw’s point of view, he must be worried that they might say something unnecessary if we run into them here.

“It looks like we have arrived.”

The big port city Sirius sprawled beyond the airship. The city itself looked as peaceful as ever, but a fleet consisting of the Royal Navy and Holmia’s navy was imposingly docked at the port, making the preparations for war pretty obvious.

“The navy, huh…?”

Yep, because of the existence of magic airships, maritime transport isn’t overly developed in this world. The main cause is to be found in the usefulness of airships simply being too predominant, but because of many dangerous ocean currents and topographical issues, it isn’t easy to build new ports, and the existence of sea serpents also plays a role in this.

As a result of that, most of the maritime ships had developed in the direction of downsizing, arriving at the current state of the navy.

Bigger ships would be okay with traveling the oceans since they were difficult to attack for serpents, but they came with troubles in regards to fitting port facilities. Regardless of fishing ships or marine transport, it’d be an eternal conflict between inconvenience and deficits. And, although such big ships would be a valid means to travel between continents, they would mostly serve as deadwood since the existence of continents other than Lingaia wasn’t proven as of yet.

Medium-sized ships would get attacked by serpents out on the ocean, and they lost out to small ships in utility near the coast. They could carry more freight than small ships, but they were outdone by airships, which could take the shortest route in the sky on top of that.

If you excluded fishing, ships could mostly cover the parts which were left unattended by airships, I suppose.

Many of the landed nobility with ports possessed their own navy to crack down on smuggling and piracy. …But, since the ships and scale of the organization necessary for that kind of policing work were small, their combat abilities were limited to handling common pirates, smugglers, and other sea criminals.

I had heard that Holmia’s navy was leading in the Kingdom, but the sizes of their boats and the number of ships was shabby at best. The Royal Army wasn’t much better in comparison with Holmia’s navy as they only deployed their navy in territories under the Kingdom’s direct control. With the air force being prioritized, the navy was doomed to a life in the shadows within the army.

“In the first place, the navy is probably useless anyway since the opponent seems to use an air fleet.”

Given that the navy ships weren’t equipped with convenient weaponry like cannons, they had no means to deal with airborne enemies. On the other hand, they’d be under constant threat of sinking after suffering an air raid.

They’ve been informed about the magic cannon developed in the Mizuho Dukedom, but it’d be impossible to suddenly mass produce and distribute something like that. Also, it was unthinkable that Duke Mizuho would offer his technology to the Kingdom. Even the Empire only recently entered the testing phase with prototypes, I hear.

“I guess we’ll first head over to greet Duke Holmia…”

As soon as we landed our airship at the designated docking place, we went over to the temporary headquarters while leaving our babies, the maids, and the guards behind.

 

◆◇◆

 

“You’re Earl Baumeister-dono? Thank you for your support.”

Margrave Holmia was 38 years old. He inherited title and land after his father died of illness a few years back…Elise had briefed me.

He seemed to be average when it came to his abilities as lord, and just like he wasn’t a particularly wise ruler, he wasn’t a fool either.

“Things have become quite dire, haven’t they?”

“And here not much time has passed since the end of the Empire’s civil war… But…”

Going by the latest news, the mysterious ─ or rather it’s pretty much set to be demons ─ fleet has been carefreely continuing the establishment of a base on the Terra Harrez Archipelago without showing any hints of moving from there.

“That’s the result of your navy’s reconnaissance, right?”

“Well, the reconnaissance itself is limited to small boats, though. As the other side didn’t do anything to hinder us from scouting for some reason, it wasn’t all that difficult to obtain that information either, but…even so, they feel somehow eerie.”

“We can’t see the objective of the other side, that’s why.”

“Because of that, we’re troubled right now, but the only work we currently have to do is to remain on standby while staying vigilant. This keeps me fairly busy, however…”

The army of the Margrave Holmia House, the armies of other local nobles, and the royal army is successively assembling in the area. And since they use up big amounts of goods even without doing anything, Margrave Holmia has to administer all of it.

The costs are covered by the Kingdom and nobles who sent reinforcements, but their troops still need to procure on site what they don’t have on hand. Guaranteeing a smooth transport of materials is the margrave’s most important task.

“Some of my retainers are insisting on attacking with the whole army to recover the archipelago…I feel so drained even though nothing has even happened yet…”

“I see…”

“Even if we manage to recover the archipelago successfully, it only consists of empty, uninhabited islands. With our opponents being demons, the casualties will likely be high, so if you consider the price to be paid, I cannot put such a loss-heavy order into practice as long as the Kingdom’s government doesn’t make the call.”

“Having said that, it’ll also be a problem to leave things as they are, eh?”

Allowing for his own territory to be stolen would damage his honor as a noble.

It’s pretty obvious that Margrave Holmia wanted the demons to withdraw. As margrave, he was very unwilling to admit his true thoughts that there would be almost nothing to gain from carrying out a recovery operation, but even the Kingdom’s government wasn’t as foolish as to blame him for this. After all, they’d be hard pressed, if Margrave Holmia told them to recover the archipelago with the Royal Army since he’d yield the territorial rights to the Kingdom.

“It means we have no choice but to watch the situation for now, but even that action alone lets the expenses skyrocket. Why did things develop like this…?”

All I could do was to conversationally agree with Margrave Holmia’s bickering.

 

◆◇◆

——————- End of Part 1 ——————-

 

Given that I had fulfilled my duty of showing up and greeting, I left the headquarters and went back to our ship. My babies were over there, and the ship’s interior possessed all facilities and equipment necessary for living.

I think it’ll be plenty for us to wait here, even while not staying at an inn or something like that.

“It’s essentially the troop headquarters of the Baumeister army, isn’t it?”

“Leaving aside the quality, our numbers are too lacking to call it an army, though.”

It was a campaign with our only combat forces being magicians who were my wives at the same time. So far as it went, we had some soldiers with us, but they ultimately came along as guards. Burkhart-san and Doushi were present too, but they were treated as reinforcements of Margrave Breithilde and the royal family respectively.

“Is there anything for us to do?”

“Hmm, no, I don’t really think so. We won’t have anything to do as long as nothing happens,” Luise answered Ina.

It’d be bad for us to push ourselves and steal the work of the normal soldiers. I mean, I’m not all that eager for us to be ordered to spearhead an attack on the archipelago as a result of us drawing attention to ourselves by working too hard.

I’m simply hoping that the Kingdom’s government chooses the solution with the least casualties.

“How about we go shopping then?”

“Oh, nice idea, Katharina. Let’s go all together, okay?”

Leaving the baby-care to Dominique and the other maids, we headed to Sirius. Currently the city was practically in a state of war, but it wasn’t as though they were fighting in the streets. Given that many soldiers from the outside were around, the city seemed to prosper thanks to all the business they brought about.

There would be no end if they were to transport the necessary goods each and every time, and if they did, it’d also require bringing a supply unit along. As such, it was easier to simply bring money and buy what was necessary in Sirius. Because of the current state of the city, the prices were somewhat high, but it was still cheaper than having supply units transport the goods.

But, I guess you can’t expect anything less of the city’s merchants who are good at calculations.

“Ironically, they are making a profit because of the war.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it. Even if the tax revenue increases a bit, Margrave Holmia will probably end up deep in the red…”

Burkhart-san and Doushi examined the city’s state while stuffing our mouths with roasted skewers of a creature resembling squid (though I think it’s squid anyway).

The number of people from the outside had increased, and the merchants seemed to rejoice over the grown sales. We could see members of the royal army, western lords and their troops, and other magicians who have come here to support the war effort like us. Even without any battle raging, they were eating and drinking just as usual, and some of them also stayed in inns, if their numbers were on the lower end.

The city of Sirius was thriving within a sort of war state, in other words.

“Hmm? Earl Baumeister-dono?”

“Phillip-dono? Christoph-dono, too? How come?”

“We’re here as reinforcements.”

We reunited with the two, who fought together with us during the Empire’s civil war, while strolling through the city. Several dozen officers of the royal army were following them. Apparently they were just coming back from greeting Margrave Holmia.

“Long time no see. But, I heard that the royal army only dispatched its air force.”

“Elise-dono, that stems from things being roughly abbreviated, I think.”

Since I wanted to hear the latest news, I decided to invite the two for tea. Phillip and Christoph had their men, except for a few guards, return to their camp, and then headed to a restaurant together with us. Over there, we booked a room, and started to chat while eating desserts and so on.

“The reinforcements mainly consist of the air force, but a certain number of ground forces have also been stationed on the ships.”

“After all, they’ll need infantrymen if they’re going to launch a landing operation to retake the archipelago.”

However, supply would become tough if they sent too many soldiers to the Holmia Margraviate. Accordingly they selected the royal soldiers, who lived through the Empire’s civil war, and their commanders, Phillip and Christoph, under the principle of going with a few elites who would be capable of coping with accidents.

“It feels like something bothersome has been pushed on me, but my peerage was raised and I was also appointed as general, so well…”

“I was also appointed as a military official, and since it’s work, it means I should do my best to an extent where I won’t die.”

Their reputation took blow during the succession dispute of the Margrave Browig House, but afterwards they played an active role in the Empire’s civil war while leading royal forces. It seems they are disqualified as lords over territory, but they are treated favorably because they’re two of the few successful, battle-hardened appointed nobles.

“So, Minister Edgar had a decent foresight, I’d say.”

“Erwin, I actually think so as well, and it’s true that he’s taking care of us, but Minister Edgar has also been evaluated highly for his decision to have picked us up.”

“That evaluation is yet another reason why we’ve been mobilized.”

Well, that might be the nobles’ way of 『I scratch your back if you scratch mine』. I’ve heard that Phillip became an appointed Viscount and Christoph an appointed Baron. Both then became Minister Edgar’s vassals after going separate ways and becoming independent.

“That man is noble contrary to what his appearance would suggest, isn’t he?”

“Thanks to his appearance, he’s treated as a meathead, and many nobles fall for that trick.”

According to Christoph, Minister Edgar seems to be a genuine, high-ranking noble. Though I’ve known as much for a while now after considering the matter with Wilma.

“So, what is the Kingdom planning at this point?” Elise asked about the main topic, steering the conversation in that direction.

“They’re divided on it.”

According to them, some nobles regarded this as war since the demons occupied the archipelago and were now building a base there. Others thought that it’d be more constructive to have at least one talk with the demons first, given that the Kingdom is in the middle of preparing its defenses at the moment and since it’s not like they invaded the continent’s mainland but the uninhabited archipelago.

Christoph explained that the authorities were still discussing the matter as opinions were divided in those two camps.

“Has His Majesty not made any decision yet?”

“No. One of the reasons is the lack of information to make a qualified call.”

At present, none of us could grasp the demons’ aim.

“Even though it’d be common sense to dispatch diplomats first, they suddenly occupied the archipelago. But, according to the reconnaissance intelligence, the number of soldiers on the demons’ side is low…”

The number of personnel on their airships remains unclear, but it sounds like less than a thousand people are currently working on constructing the base.

“The demons as a race have a low population to begin with, but although their technological level should surpass ours by leaps and bounds, it looks like they’re working awfully slowly, so it begs the question what they’re up to.”

“Hmm.”

“Our side’s preparations to intercept will take some time as well, so it appears we’ll be on standby for a while.”

Neither side has sent out diplomats or diplomatic corps. The demons are leisurely building their base while Margrave Holmia is getting ready to intercept them. Under these circumstances, it’s impossible for us to make a move. After all, I got no authority in this matter whatsoever.

“I guess we’ll buy some souvenirs to take back home, and go back…”

“I think it’d be better to hold back on the souvenirs for now. It looks like this is still going to take quite some time.”

I ended up being told something very mother-like by Ina. Instead of souvenirs, we decided to buy fish that would be good as ingredients before heading back to the airship.

As former Japanese, the option of not buying fish after coming to a port city simply doesn’t exist.

However…

“Noble sir, Sirius is a port city and fish are our specialty, but the bigger fish boats have been procured for scouting the Terra Harrez Archipelago, and the haul that can be obtained with small fish boats has been completely bought up by the army. I mean, recently there’s a lot of soldiers in the city, right? Then again, we don’t really mind since we can sell all of our catches.”

“WHAT WAS THAT───!?”

“Earl-sama, is that any reason to get so angry?”

“Burkhart-san, don’t you find it terrible if you go on a trip to other regions but can’t eat the local specialties over there?”

“I think it’s regrettable, but would that qualify as reason to get so upset about it?”

When we went to the fishing harbor to directly obtain some fish, no decent fish were left. Asking the old fishmonger about the reason, I got pissed by the reality of being unable to purchase the local fish.

“Erwin, you tell Earl-sama as well.”

Burkhart-san, who was wondering why I suddenly had such an attitude, apparently hoped to get Erw to support his case, but right now he was on my side.

“Even though Haruka-san had planned to dry salted fish overnight for us… That dish tastes best with fresh fish, and yet…”

“Erw-san, a tasty dried salted fish with the old fish over here will be impossible.”

Haruka, a Mizuho woman, already had full control of Erw’s stomach.

“That’s totally true, isn’t it? Dried fish really lacks impact if you don’t use fresh fish…”

“That is Milord for you. You understand this very well,” Haruka praised me, but I’m no former Japanese for show.

Still, is it really okay to have to put up with the absurdity of coming to the sea and yet not being able to get any fresh fish!? No, it’s as ridiculous as going to war.

“Ugh…Doushi, you say something to this as well.”

“The true charm of traveling lies in the local ingredients and cuisine! Not being able to eat fish after coming all the way to Sirius is awful!”

Doushi is someone enjoying the culinary experience during trips, too. He was as pissed about fresh fish not being available as me.

“If it’s a matter of money, I’ll play! So please sell us fresh fish!”

“That is…we have a contract with Margrave Holmia’s army to wholly sell the small amount of fresh fish to them…”

It sounds like they put in a recurring, regular order in advance since they’d hate to receive old fish.

“It’s His Lordship’s request and it’s not like they beat down the prices either. Sorry, but I got no share for you.”

“Bloody hell…!”

“Dear, how about we visit another store?”

“Madam, all of us fishmongers in Sirius are in the same situation.”

Not only the Margrave Holmia House, but the other nobles, who had mobilized their feudal armies, had also ordered regular deliveries, resulting in us being unable to buy fresh fish as we got a late start here. I ended up dropping my shoulders in disappointment over that fact.

“Wend, you alright?”

“Say, isn’t there at least a bit?”

Knowing with my obsession over food, Ina gently consoled me while Luise gave it another attempt by asking the fishmonger about his stock of fresh fish.

“It’s so dire that even our family doesn’t eat any fresh fish right now.”

The stomachs of soldiers are to be feared. Even if the haul quantity might have dropped, for them to have bought up all of Sirius’s fish…

“Being unable to eat fish…it makes me wonder whether I should regard Holmia’s army as much more of an enemy than the demons who I’ve never actually seen myself anyway.”

“Wendelin-san, I kind of doubt that this thinking is the right attitude for a noble of the Kingdom…,” Katharina chided me right away.

“I can totally relate to hubby’s feelings. As an adventurer I went to all kinds of places, but one of the joys in doing so was being allowed to eat the local dishes.”

“Oh, so you think so as well, Katia?”

“Every once in a while, I ran across some crazy local cooking, but I heard that Sirius’s fish tastes good.”

“Indeed. I heard the fish over here are quite decent in their own right, although they’re slightly inferior to the fish imported from the north.”

In the eyes of the former Duchess Philip, Therese, the fish in her homeland must be the best. And yet she apparently knew that Sirius is the place with the most delicious fish in the Kingdom.

“Say, Wend-sama.”

“What’s up, Wilma?”

“Why don’t we catch some ourselves?”

“Err…because of fishing rights, I’d suspect?”

Wilma was apparently claiming that we should simply catch the fish ourselves if we can’t buy them. Which reminds me, me fishing with her at the coast south of the Demon Forest allowed me to get along for real with her.

However, fishers are usually a pain when it comes to fishing rights. Not only will you get scolded if you catch fish on your own accord, but depending on the region, poachers are turned into fish fodder.

Currently only small boats are left, and it’s possible to get attacked by serpents who appear at the coast.

I thought it might not be that simple to catch fish.

“When it comes to fishing right, it’ll be okay if you hire a certain number of fishermen as crew. It’ll be no problem as long as you get them to come along for the fishing while paying them a daily wage,” explained the fishmonger.

The rules were a lot laxer than I had expected.

“Are any fishermen left over?”

“There are. Since the folks, who were recruited as scouts of the archipelago, can’t fish, less fishermen than usual ride on boats. And with just small fish boats, some fishermen will be out of work, no matter what you do.”

Given that they can’t do their work normally, they currently ignore the ownerships of the small fish boats and seem to use them in shifts to sail out for fishing. However, as they’re unable to avoid a loss in income with this method, they’ll probably jump at any opportunity to make some extra cash with a side job, the fishmonger said.

“But, even if you have fishermen left over, no boats are available, right?”

As someone who had worked for a long time as an adventurer, Lisa seemed to have an abundance of experience in society, something you could probably describe as fitting for her age. She immediately pointed out the contradiction in what the fishmonger was saying.

“Sure am no match for you, young miss. But, as long as you’ve got a boat, you can catch fish if you head around one kilometer off the coast. If it comes to an amount to feed a noble family like yours, you can catch plenty with a normal fishing rod. And serpents won’t show up either if you don’t head out beyond ten kilometers off the coast.”

“I see, so a boat is indispensable, huh?”

In that case, it’s not going to be any problem.

At once I started to prepare the boat necessary for fishing.

 

*   *   *

 

 

“Wend-kun, where did you get that boat from?”

“From my magic bag.”

“I saw as much myself, but…it kind of looks like an expensive boat.”

“Well, I got it for cheap, though.”

 

I just need to catch fish myself if I can’t buy any.

Using Wilma’s opinion as a reference, I put a boat into water at the wharf, near my magic airship. It was around thirty meters long and its form somewhat resembled a cruiser. It was something I found in the underground ruin located in the Demon Forest, and according to its manual, it’s a magic touring boat for leisure which was popular among the rich in the era of the Ancient Magic Civilization.

The main feature of this boat was to be found in it moving its propellers through mana provided by magic crystals. Only a part of the larger navy ships in the royal army and some noble’s armies are equipped with such a propulsion system, and its weakpoint would be that you can’t install this system on smaller boats like this one here with the current technological level of this era.

Being told that it was for research purposes, the magic tool guild bought several of those boats off me, but it looks like they weren’t in time to come up with a new magic propulsion system for the currently boiling conflict. Nowadays, most of the medium and smaller ships are moved by sailors rowing and sails.

However, since it’d be pointless for only the larger ships to be faster in case of maneuvering within a fleet, this propulsion system probably won’t boost their combat prowess much unless they also equip the smaller boats with a magic propulsion system.

“A boat for yourself, huh…? My father only has a small boat to go out fishing on rivers.”

The Meinbach fief, where Amalie-san grew up, only has small rivers, but no ocean access. Boats are at most small crafts whittled out of wood logs, and even so, they seem to only possess one boat, their whole pride, that’s owned by the local lord.

“Amalie-san, the Baumeister House of the past didn’t even possess a single boat.”

“Now that you mention it. But, are we going to be alright with suddenly using a new boat?”

“Yes, we have naturally tested out its functionality.”

I had the fishermen, who seemed bored as they haven’t been able to go out fishing, practice with this boat until a little while ago, seeing how it’s just another ship anyway. Its propulsion system works automatically, and the part about moving a boat shouldn’t be that different either.

『With the need to operate the sails and row when there’s no wind gone, it’s pretty chill』

『It’s actually so easy that I’d love to sell it to us』

The fishermen got the gist of how to run the magic cruiser after around an hour of training. I guess that’s professionals for you.

I didn’t make any licenses for boat driving or anything like that, so I don’t really get how they work.

“Are we going to fish with that boat?”

“Yes.”

Given that it’s no fishing boat, it lacks a bit of storage room, and you can’t really use nets with it, but you can at least catch some fish by angling. Seeing how we were clearly planning to just catch enough fish for ourselves anyway, we immediately decided to head out.

“Amalie-san, you’re not going to come with us?”

“I get very seasick. And I have to look after the babies. So, please catch some fish for me as well.”

“Got it.”

At once, we loaded all necessary materials and fishing tools, before sailing out off the coast with the usual members.

“I’m not quite sure whether it’s smart to do something like this,” Burkhart-san said, but as soon as we arrived at the spot recommended by the fisherman, he’d take out his own fishing rod, get the bait ready, and begin to angle.

“Burkhart-san, you’re quite used to it, aren’t you?”

“Adventurers occasionally need to rely on the blessings of the ocean and rivers to eat something. I did angle every once in a while. But, my trick is to use a good fishing rod, I guess.”

His fishing rod is another item from the underground ruin in the Demon Forest. Reels exist in this world as well, but since they’re very simple, it’s easy for the line to get all tangled up. On that account, the excavated fishing rod isn’t that different from those made and used in Japan. It’s easy to use for beginners and women.

“Erw, get in the mood and fish some as well.”

“I am, but just like Burkhart-san, I’m wondering whether it’s really alright to do this.”

“No, you’re looking at it wrongly. We’re doing proper military maneuvers.”

Even though we came all the way here as reinforcements, neither the Holmia House, nor the royal army or the other noble armies seem to have the spare time to bother with us.

We’ve been completely ignored except for receiving the order 『to remain on standby until the situation changes in some way』. We supposedly came here to help out, but some younger nobles seem to mess around in the city, causing unnecessary extra work to deal with them, and consolidating a jumble of miscellaneous armies into one entity is a tough job.

Since I’ve seen Therese and Peter badly struggling with that, it’s nothing new at this point anymore.

Under such circumstances, we, who don’t cause any issues, are left to our own devices since it doesn’t require any effort that way. But, because I feel a bit sketchy about doing nothing, we’ve headed out for the sake of procuring food ourselves and an independent reconnaissance.

After explaining that, Erw commented, “Procuring food and reconnaissance…right…”

“You could also say it is a convenient excuse!”

“Whoa! Doushi, that’s way too straightforward!”

Reconnaissance or whatever; this place is around one kilometer off the port. The Terra Harrez Archipelago lies more than 100 kilometers west from here. Even if we used magic, it’d be impossible to check on the demons.

So far as it went, I brought up the excuse that we’d be dealing with serpents as the navy preoccupied with the demons, but it was very improbable for a serpent to appear so close to a place with many people in the first place.

Even when it comes to the argument of procuring food, it’s not like we’re low on food. The west is one of the Kingdom’s bread baskets. And given that they’ve also put effort into livestock breeding, there’s no shortage on grain and meat.

In short, I simply hate the idea of not being able to eat fish.

“Since we will not be able to do anything for a while, it is best to prepare for any eventuality while taking a breather and looking after the children.”

“You hear? Even Elise is approving.”

Nothing less of my wife. She’s saying some truly great stuff.

“I have heard that fresh fish, and especially those caught with fishing rods, are very delicious, so let us do our best.”

“You got it right, madam. Fish taste better when caught with a fishing rod in comparison to a net,” The fisherman backed up Elise’s claim while steering the boat. “The fish caught with nets usually struggle inside and end up hurting themselves. In reality, the fish caught by hand cost lots more. Now then, we arrived, so feel free to toss your lines.”

With him saying that, all of us put the bait on the hooks and cast the lines. We used slices of fish and squid as bait which the fishermen prepared for us.

“Something bit!”

Ina was the first to have a fish bite. After she followed the fisherman’s advice on how to reel in the line, he used a catcher to get the fish at the end.

“It’s red bream, huh? It’s great if you eat it raw or grill after sprinkling salt on it.”

Given that it looks just like red sea bream, it should taste decently enough.

“Please prepare it at once.”

“Noble sir, you sure know your fish. Leave it to me.”

The fisherman cut off its tail and gills, and let out its blood in the cold ocean water.

“Wend, aren’t they tastier if you keep them alive?”

“That’s a misunderstanding.”

Restaurants that cook fish, which they let swim around as an attraction for tourists and rich folks, exist in Sirius as well. As it allows you to eat fresh fish, that method seems to be very popular, even if the price is close to a rip-off, but if you ask me who used to work at a trading company working with fish as goods, that’s just an illusion.

“They force the fish to live on in small fish-tanks without even feeding them. That’s different from the mud extraction of river fish. The taste will naturally deteriorate. They appear to be alive, but in reality it’s just an illusion of them being fresh and delicious.”

I immediately pickle and drain the blood, and once that’s finished, I swiftly remove the intestines and gills, before putting the cooled fish into my magic bag.

“Noble sir, you do know how to handle fish quite well. Since it’s our job, we carry them to fish-tanks while forcing them to stay alive. Shellfish, prawns, and crabs have to be kept alive, so I guess you could think of it like that.”

“Haaah, I’m counting on you.”

“Wend, you’re fairly knowledgeable about food, aren’t you?”

“Somehow something bugs me about the way you’re phrasing it.”

“I mean, you can’t really remember the names of nobles and such. You leave that part to Elise for the most part, don’t you?”

Having the facts pointed out to me by Ina, my face freezes up. From my view as former Japanese, the names of the nobles in this world are complicated and difficult to remember. Then again, I’ve been bad at remembering names to begin with.

“Let’s put that aside and catch lots of fish!”

If there’s any noble I really need to know about, I should be able to naturally remember their names. Thus, me not being able to remember their names simply means those nobles are of no need to me.

Deciding to interpret it like that, I cast my line once more.

“Dear, I caught one.”

“It’s a sokozoko.”

Elise caught a large flounder. By the way, sokozoko seems to be the local term for flounder. The name for the fish is also different in the capital or the Philip Dukedom.

“Mine is pretty big.”

“It’s a big amberjack. This also rocks if you grill it with salt.”

Luise had vigorously reeled in a fish resembling a huge amberjack. 1 As usual her superhuman strength goes beyond what you’d imagine from her appearance.

“Caught one.”

“Wilma, yours is fairly big too.”

“A flathead, huh? That’s a high-class fish.”

Even Wilma cheered up after catching a fish similar to a flathead with a length close to one meter.

Still, I gotta say, everyone’s doing well to catch such big hauls.

“They are simply not biting, are they, Wendelin-san?”

“How about you, Katharina?”

“I have caught a few.”

Katharina has been pulling out fish similar to mackerels with a length of around 40 cm in succession while angling on the other side of the boat.

“It’s a big haul!”

“It is fun to catch fish like this.”

Katia and Therese were doing fine as well.

“Mackerel, huh? I think they will do nice when cooked with miso or marinated.”

“Madam, they are called sappa in Sirius.”

The fisherman was fussing over the local terms for some reason. Him not being able to compromise on that might mean that he’s embracing unexpectedly strong feelings about his hometown.

“Angling together can be quite a bit of fun.”

Erw and Haruka, who are fishing as a couple, had caught a huge amount of mackerels. Since Haruka said that she’ll cook them in miso, I’ll have her share some with me later on, too.

“If they’re fresh, you can also use them for sashimi.” While explaining, the fisherman snapped off the head, drained the blood, and quickly removed the intestines and gills. “Some parasites also nest in their stomachs, but if you remove the intestines quickly, it’s going to be alright. The freshness will also deteriorate if you don’t get rid of the gills fast.”

He quickly processed the fish in such a way while using the cold ocean water.

Given that mackerel are cheap fish suited for commoners, they can’t do all this extra work when catching them in big nets. The ones sold in the city are basically cooked with heat.

Moreover, the one providing the cold ocean water was Lisa, or rather, 『Lisa the Blizzard』. If she gets involved, creating something like cold sea water is a breeze.

“I’m truly envious of magicians for being able to create such great amounts of cooled ocean water.”

“When we’re processing the fish with normal ocean water, it’s always a race against time.”

Fishermen can’t get their hands on a magic bag so easily. For that reason, they’re always hard-pressed on time to not lose the freshness of their haul.

“Even when we bring them back alive, we can’t store that many as our boats’ fish tanks have their limitations, and more than half of them die.”

“Because of a difference in freshness?”

“Yes, Madam. Some merchants are eagerly awaiting our return at the port as they plan to sell the fish to high nobility in the capital.”

So it looks like some merchants rush over to their befriended fisherman right after they came back from fishing, quickly hurl all the processed fish into magic bags, and then head over to the capital. Compared to them, we can procure fish that are much fresher.

“No matter how much a magic bag might prevent decay, the cooks will also spoil the fish by needing time to prepare it after getting it out of the bag. Even if you’re going to put them into a magic bag, it’s better to process them beforehand, just like the noble sir said just now.”

Given that you can’t put living fish into a magic bag either way, you have to kill it first.

“Hmm, I see. But, considering how knowledgeable you are about all this, you sure don’t have any luck with your angling, do you Earl-sama?”

At that point, Burkhart-san stabbed where it hurt the most. Everyone was successively reeling in catches, and the fishermen were throwing them into magic bags after processing the fish, but for some reason I was the only one without a single catch so far.

“Okay, so how is it going on your end then, Burkhart-san?”

“Me? I’m catching them alright.”

“Sir Magician has caught lots of makrel. They’re great for eating raw, grilling with salt, or open-air drying.”

“They’re also awesome as fish to go with wine, right? I guess I’ll catch plenty of them.”

In the beginning Burkhart-san had doubted whether it was okay to fish at all, but now he was pulling one mackerel-like fish after the other out of the sea.

Given that the shape of its fins and skin patterns were slightly different from the mackerels on Earth, it was unfortunately impossible to call it a genuine mackerel.

“That’s really bad…”

Looking at the other’s catches, our current location should be thriving with lots of fish. And yet, I alone couldn’t catch anything, let alone get a fish to bite.

“Won’t this affect my reputation as Earl Baumeister?”

“Wend, if you’re worrying about your reputation, make it something more befitting for a noble than fishing.”

Erw blurted out something fairly rude, but from my point of view, most of those present here are beginners at angling. As such, it naturally affects my good name if I’m the only one not catching anything.

Let’s make it clear that this has nothing to do with the common sense of this world’s nobility.

“I caught another one.”

“Everyone sure is going at it.”

“Well, you’ll always find someone who can’t catch even a single fish.”

Luise’s blunt remark stabbed my heart because it was the plain truth.

“But wait! Right! Doushi is here as well, right!?”

I felt relieved about having a comrade who didn’t catch any fish like me. It’s a ridiculously low level of thinking, but even so, it was good news for me.”

“Oh, one has bitten!”

“Wuuuut!”

However, my relief was shattered a few seconds later.

“Fight, fishy!”

“Wend, you’re…”

“I hate being last!”

No matter how much of Erw’s scorn it earns me, I hate being the only one without a single catch.

“I caught it!”

Doushi reeled in a fairly big fish, but seeing its body, the fisherman shook his head.

“Big noble sir, you cannot eat its intestines and meat because of its poison.”

The fisherman immediately tossed the fish back into the ocean.

“Is it not possible that you can eat it under some circumstances?”

“No, it’s a truly poisonous fish…so you’ll die from eating even a small amount…”

Even the burly fishermen got overwhelmed by Doushi’s excessive intensity while answering.

“Doushi, you should accept the opinion of a professional. You just need to catch another one, right?”

“Yes, I suppose I have no other choice.”

Being rebuked by Burkhart-san, Doushi cast his line once more. And then he caught the next fish just moments later.

“It is a reward for my usually good conduct!”

“(Why does Doushi have so much confidence in the goodness of his usual actions?)”

Erw’s awful retort reached my ears, and certainly, I didn’t know what kind of basis Doushi was using for his judgment either. If I were to make a guess, I’d say it’s probably “because he’s Doushi.”

“This fish is big as well!”

“Big noble sir, this one’s no good either.”

“Is it poisonous?”

“No, it’s got no poison, but it tastes very nasty. So much that even a cat would steer clear of it…”

He added that it was commonly referred to as “cat repellent,” which no one would take even if for free.

“No, maybe it is edible!”

Doushi immediately sank his teeth into the cat repellent as soon as it was off the hook. It was raw, but since the fish itself was fresh, it wouldn’t spoil a stomach as strong as Doushi’s.

Or rather, since he was pulling such stunts regularly anyway, even Elise had stopped worrying about him. But instead of seeing the pointlessness of worrying, she’s simply gotten used to it by now.

“Is it good, Doushi?”

“It tastes really bad!”

Even Doushi, who seemed like he’d eat anything, appeared to be bad with the cat repellent. He used his full strength to toss the rest of the cat repellent away.

“Uncle-sama, killing living beings pointlessly is…”

Even if it might have been a bad-tasting fish, killing for the fun of it was bad. Elise chided Doushi with a very religious reasoning.

“Madam, a cat repellent won’t die from this much. It won’t die even if you leave it lying in a place with no water for several hours.”

It appears to have a wondrous vitality, but unfortunately it’s a bust when it comes to cooking.

“Well, I will comply since I caught something at last.”

That statement of Doushi was clearly directed at me.

“What, thou didn’t catch a single fish yet, Wendelin?”

“Maybe I’m just in bad shape today?”

“Thine shape plays no role in this, does it? This place appears to be a spot with many fish.”

I was a beginner at angling too, but my uncle, who should still be going strong nowadays, took me fishing with him during my childhood, and while being a junior high student, I also participated in a few bus fishing tours. Even as a company worker, I went angling on several occasions during business receptions.

Why am I not catching anything today, although I always caught something during all those occasions?

“But, it’s alright. I’ll catch the boss of this patch of ocean!”

In the past, it was also mentioned in a fishing manga my father read to me back in Japan. In the end, the protagonist managed to fish the lord of the fishing spot after putting in a lot of effort.

“Boss? Is this a monster domain?”

“No, but if you fish at places like this here, a boss-like, big fish rules over the area,” I fervently explained the story of a certain fishing manga.

“Wouldn’t that just mean that they fished a big fish? Why would you be able to identify that fish as the boss?”

“Because it’s the biggest one.”

“Isn’t it possible for bigger fish to be around?”

Just as I thought, women simply can’t understand the awesomeness of Sanpei-kun. 2 It’s very saddening.

“And just as we’re talking about it!”

Finally I got a bite, too. But, now’s not the time for careless rejoicing or kicking up a fuss. Because, this is nothing more than a natural outcome.

“How big!”

Its pull is truly ridiculous and the fish seems to be quite huge, too. Hence, I must avoid letting it escape by becoming too fretful.

Regarding this as my last chance, I carefully reeled in the line.

“It looks like it’s really big,” Burkhart-san commented after seeing how much my fishing rod was bending under the strain.

“Fishing the biggest catch at the last moment! How magnificent!”

That was my current take on this, but suddenly the rod became even heavier. And afterwards it didn’t move, no matter how much I tried to reel it in.

“Wend, did it get stuck on a root?”

“No, the line is not long enough to reach the bottom.”

No matter what I tried, the line didn’t move, as if the hook got stuck in the ground. Just as I started to wonder, the reason became clear.

As soon as the line loosened up, a huge object could be seen gradually rising to the surface. And the fishermen became startled when they realized its identity.

“Why is one of them so close to the port?”

“A serpent!?”

A serpent peeked out from the ocean, hatefully looking our way. My fishing line was clearly hanging from the corner of its muzzle.

“In short, Wend’s big game got swallowed whole by that serpent, huh?”

“And, feeling the hook stabbing its mouth, it’s very angry at our dear husband who perpetrated all of this.”

It was just as Luise and Lisa had guessed. The serpent had apparently identified us as new enemies.

“Noble sir!”

 

 

 

“We must flee!”

Fishing was profitable but very dangerous. Regardless of whether one’s boat sank or not, occasionally some fishermen would be unlucky enough to run into a serpent and get eaten.

“My catch…”

However, I didn’t feel threatened by the serpent at all. Rather, I felt truly pissed that it had stolen my precious catch

“Am I not staying without a single catch because of you!?”

The serpent opened its big muzzle wide and tried to attack us, but I took it down with one shot by ramming a huge spear made out of sea water into its muzzle.

“Noble sir, that was damn incredible…”

The fishermen are astonished, but a serpent is weaker than a dragon, and this is my second time encountering one. It’s no big deal.

“It’s no fish though… No, wait!”

Maybe some fish are still left inside the serpent. I froze the serpent’s corpse and tossed it into my magic bag. Then we hurried back to port.

 

◆◇◆

 

“Uuhh…that blasted serpent…”

Once we got back to port, I gathered the fishermen at once and we dismantled the serpent. Its scales, meat, intestines, and bones were quickly bought up by merchants who had heard rumors of the kill.

That part was still fine, but when we opened up its stomach, we found a huge fish with a length of approx. two meters inside, but half-melted by gastric juices.

“Noble sir, a valuable catch got snatched away by the serpent.”

The fish resembled a longtooth grouper which was treated as a high-class delicacy in certain areas of Japan.

“It’s rare to find a gropper with such a length. Those fish are perfect for hot pots, grilling, and eating raw. You can’t eat this one though…”

“Its original form is still intact to some extent.”

“You cannot use fish that got in contact with a serpent’s gastric juice. It’ll give you a stomachache.”

“WHAAAAAAT!”

Even though I’d caught a rare, high-quality fish which was the biggest game of today on top of that, it was spoiled by the serpent eating it…is it really okay to be bogged down with such bad luck?

“Dear, did you not manage to catch a serpent?”

“But, it’s no fish…”

I wanted to catch a fish, and moreover, I brought down the serpent with magic in the end. I can’t think of this as having angled it.

“Wend, didn’t you catch what you’d call the boss?”

“Milord, your tenacity bore fruit, you know?”

“No, that’s wrong! It’s no good if the boss mentioned by me is no fish!”

A serpent is not a fish.

I powerfully objected to Haruka and Erw’s consolations. Given that the serpent entered the category of animals, it didn’t count, no matter how big the catch might have been. And anglers hated to go against the established rules of angling.

“But look, the merchants of this city were really happy about this.”

Now that the haul had dropped due to the shortage of ships and most of the remaining catch being bought up by soldiers, all of them cheerfully bought the serpent materials after they heard that one of those, which would be hunted down only once every few months under normal circumstances, was being processed at the port in a near-to-perfect state. The merchants competed over the parts, which the fishermen dismantled, in an auction. But, as I left that part to them while paying a bonus, the problem remained that I hadn’t managed to catch a single fish.

“Damn it! Tomorrow I’ll catch lots! Definitely!”

“We’re going to fish tomorrow as well, Earl-sama?”

“It’s a military operation for the sake of procuring food!”

“You sure insist on that line of argumentation…though I don’t particularly mind as long as I can get some side dish to go with my wine…”

“Angling is fun!”

“Doushi, you know…”

 

 

Interpreting that it’d be fine to go on with this as Margrave Holmia hadn’t said anything, I decided to head out for fishing in the name of food procurement tomorrow as well.

 

 

 


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Translation Notes:

  1. The author comes up with some extra fish names, sometimes. But is a lazy fuck about it as the “new” term is ブーリ while amberjack is called ブリ. I’ll just call the thing for what it is, even if it might make the explanatory sentence a bit awkward.
  2. I think the author refers to Fisherman Sanpei. It’s got a 109-episode anime adaption (released in the early 80s) and a movie. Though I’m not aware of the manga or even anime having been translated into English. The author died around three years ago.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Hachinan tte, sore wa nai deshou! – Volume 19 – Chapter 1: Reconnaissance and Special Food Procurement Mission – Part 1 »

  2. Pingback: Hachinan tte, sore wa nai deshou! – Volume 19 – Chapter 1: Reconnaissance and Special Food Procurement Mission – Part 2 »

  3. Pingback: Hachinan tte, sore wa nai deshou! – Volume 19 – Chapter 1: Reconnaissance and Special Food Procurement Mission – Part 3 »

  4. Pingback: Hachinan tte, sore wa nai deshou! – Volume 19 – Chapter 1: Reconnaissance and Special Food Procurement Mission – Part 4 »

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