Widest plains on Kaltcio, the Fonclanc plains, or, to be precise, one fifth of these plains were occupied by a gigantic city of Sanc Adiet. The city was controlled by the strongest fire divine arts users who, over the ages, became royalty. For generations this city was the capital of the country.
The city functioned under a caste system and every citizen knew the limits of his caste – those with stronger divine arts were allowed to live in the quarters in the upper districts of the city as to boast of their power. The palace, where the royalty lived, was a 10 floor building. Its structure and walls below the 5th floor were reinforced with the divine arts.
The central district that was limited to the powerful divine arts users [the highborn] was surrounded by a huge defensive wall. Thus, having no place to expand, inhabitants built taller and taller buildings to accommodate themselves. Behind these walls the middleclass district surrounded the highborn section, followed by the district of the lowest class.
The middleclass district, just like the highborn district, was distinguished by the structures that were higher than the ones of the lowest class district as to overlook the area below. The lowest class district was also situated higher than the ground – as the city expanded, stone pavement was laid out to accommodate new structures.
Basically, the buildings got higher towards the center of the city and, after a period of reckless development, the city took an oval shape when looked at from above. On the city outskirts there was a district for the powerless who were exceptionally allowed to live there. From the perspective of the powerless caste, that in itself was a blessing.
On the summit of the highborn district stood the Volance palace. The palace was rebuilt along with the city each time becoming higher and higher. The current palace retained no architecture of the old times, which was now buried underneath the stone pavement and looked like some sort of underground labyrinth.
The wall and roofs, neighboring the top floor of the palace, were adorned with the same light absorbing material that was used in the production of shouka, enveloping the palace in radiance.
In a room on the top floor of this palace, a bored looking girl, wearing a high class red dress, was sitting with her legs thrown back on a couch, made by a highly skilled divine arts artisan. She threw a book, she was skimming through, on the table.
“Boring~. I AM BORED!”
“Princess, you are being improper.”
Rebuked aide of the personal bodyguard and education department, to whom such behavior of this immodest young princess, outrageously crossing her hands behind her head and rocking back and forth while sitting cross-legged on the chair, was a problem he worried about every day.
“Stop it! A lady cannot behave like this!”
“Not like anyone cares, no one can see me here either.”
Personal aide Krielov walked up to the princess of the divine fire arts users, Violet Volance, who was rocking in the chair being bored out of her mind, and held the back of the seat before the princess fell down.
“No Mhms! You should act more like the royalty.”
“Grand and glorious shining example, standing at the top of divine fire arts users”, Violet, who was scolded as usual, muttered boredly while playing with her nail and ignoring the preaching:
“Father and the bureaucrats that surround him are all black inside, quite like the statue of the Evil god.”
“The statue of the evil god?”
“The black statue enshrined in the powerless shrines.”
“Princess, you should not speak of noble descendants of the fire god as those of such low birth.”
As she was started to be scolded again, Violet rested her bored face by placing her chin on her hand and said something that caused even more wrinkles to appear on Krielov’s forehead.
“I want to meet Zeshald.”
Glancing at frowning Krielov, Violet purposely mentioned Zeshald. Zeshald has not visited the palace for several years, but, when Violet was an infant, he used to play with her.
“You should not mention that weirdo.”
“Why shouldn’t I? I heard that Zeshald’s mastery of divine water arts outperforms even the elite of the palace, the [Water god corps].”
Beside [Divine soldier corps], soldiers tasked by the palace to defend and patrol the city, there was an elite group, responsible for tasks related with palace officials. [Water god corps] was an elite group, comprised of elites of the divine healing type water arts. Incidentally Krielov was the commanding officer of the [Fire god corps] – an elite group of fire arts users, responsible for the safety of the royalty.
“Princess, hearing you speak such things people might misunderstand it for favoritism. That will only cause trouble for him.”
“Ugh… Zeshald is not that weak of a person.”
Replied Violet, forming her lips into a sulking expression.
“Teacher is leaving for the city? Is he going along?”
“Yes, Yuusuke will also be going with teacher. They will be out for 3 days.”
Sun was at Bahana’s house with a basket full of rara fruits. While exchanging the fruit for some dried meat they were having a small talk.
The fruits that Sun brought were customized by Yuusuke and had a special flavor. Also they were not soft as ripe rara fruits so one could feel the soft texture when eating them. That made them extremely popular amongst the villagers.
“Is that so? Then go home, it’s nearly dinnertime.”
“Mmm, thank you.”
Bahama treated Sun as her own daughter. Seeing the girl act as usual aunt Bahana sighed inside: “It seems this child is still ways off from talking about romance”.
“Yes, it’s comfortable.”
Due to Yuusuke’s customization riding a wagon on the main road to the city was pleasant. If you went directly through the main road by the wagon, it took an entire day to get to Sanc Adiet from Rufk village.
By leaving early in the morning it was possible to arrive to the capital late in the evening. Before the road, stretching into the horizon, a growing beige city skyline could be seen.
“At first I thought that there was a mountain on the horizon.”
“Hoho, well there isn’t much of a difference.”
Zeshald, sitting on the driver’s seat, was explaining to Yuusuke, who was riding in the back of the wagon, about Sanc Adiet. The city expanded when its population increased. To be able to see every nook of the city the king has raised the elevation of the highborn district forming the shape that the city had now.
“Then, is the old city is buried beneath the current city?”
Yuusuke having showed interest in history, Zeshald nodded happily to a remark of a person, sharing his interests.
Horse was running tirelessly thanks to Zeshald’s water arts. This improved the traveling comfort and maneuverability of the wagon up to that of an average high class carriage. Yuusuke and Zeshald were able to travel almost without any rest and arrived to the city ahead of their schedule.
“Uhm, street (stall) market might still be open. Do you want to go for a short walk?”
After parking the wagon on an empty spot they employed a local powerless to guard it. Powerless here usually earned their coin by guarding horses or wagons of traders that came to the city. Powerless considered it an honor to be allowed to live in the vicinities of the city.
“Eeeeh! M-mister, WHAT is that?”
“AH, sorry, but currently I only have these on me.”
Zeshald shrugged his shoulders towards a local powerless, confused that the yellow shouka he was given, was not a mistake.
For the wagon guard duty a single green shouka alone was enough of a compensation, yet, because all the green shoukas that Zeshald had in his purse had changed to the red ones, the smallest amount of money Zeshald had was a yellow Zalnar shouka. Having received more than thrice his usual play, the local powerless, screaming from joy, assumed his guard duties.
“His scream was quite something, eh?”
“That’s because for them it is quite a lot of money.”
Zeshald answered Yuusuke, who was glimpsing [at the local] from under the hood that fell low enough to hide his eyes. The hooded cloak was prepared to cover Yuusuke’s hair because dying ones hair or using a wig of different color was a taboo in this society.
Divine arts users, being able to feel the power of another user were able to use this for discrimination. Yuusuke, whose power carried a different feeling (atmosphere) around him, considered his choices to avoid the uncomfortable gazes from other people. Being near Zeshald and pretending to be his apprentice was both, convenient and simple idea.
In the evening Zeshald and Yuusuke went out to walk around the city to search around for some things they had to buy at the stalls of the central street. The street stall market was a famous aspect of the lower district. Adding to the size of Sanc Adiet, one could find every kind of item you could imagine in this market. It was a place where businesses of scores of people flourished every day.
In the lower district citizens were allowed to keep the stalls up until sunset for free. However, if they wanted to set up their shop in the middle class or highborn district they were required to purchase a store permit.
Arriving at the highborn district, almost all of the clothes and adornments were custom made. Even entering a restaurant without formal attire was not permitted.
“Will you sell your wares here?”
“Yeah, an acquaintance of mine has a shop further up the road. He was interested in it after hearing about you.”
Tomorrow morning after securing the stall the two planned to sell shoes, clothes, and animal products, such as wool. After obtaining the money they thought about buying the everyday commodities and heading back to the village.
Zeshald who was looking for a pottery stall to replace a plate, Sun broke some time ago, suddenly sensing a presence of a powerful divine arts user looked to the other side of the street.
“Is something wrong?”
Yuusuke also stopped and looked the same way. Suddenly the crowd parted and a group of people, wearing brightly decorated armor, appeared. They were [Divine soldiers], that he saw several times near the city gates. It was a proud group, tasked with protecting public order and had a unique atmosphere around them.
“What is that?”
“A member of royalty with his retainers has come down incognito from the palace.”
“The procession stands out so much, I don’t understand what [“incognito”] means here.” – Yuusuke replied ignorantly. After hearing Yuusuke’s comment Zeshald nodded, saying “I see” and explained Yuusuke what “traveling incognito” meant in this world.
Divine arts users could feel the presence of other divine arts users. Since some time ago royalty have used their powers throughout the kingdom during events and festivals, thus everyone in this city knew the aura that they carried. Thus if one would disguise himself and come down into the city, he would be detected immediately.
While it was possible for palace officials or someone not so well known to travel according to Yuusuke’s understanding of “incognito”, for the royalty, who used their power to command respect from the lower classes, hiding their presence like that was impossible.
For that reason it has become a norm for royal family to be surrounded by palace soldiers when they wanted to travel “incognito” to sightsee, have fun, or check the wellbeing or obedience of the common divine arts users.
“Well, royalty rarely goes down to the city… ….. This is bad!”
While Zeshald was telling Yuusuke this, his face suddenly became worried as he recognized something. He looked to Yuusuke and said:
“We have to leave this place quickly”
“Wh- what? What’s with all the urgency?”
“Princess, it’s about time we returned to the palace.”
“You are saying boring things again. Look, the city is still busy.”
Violet, walking ‘incognito’ around the city, accompanied by her close aid and several retainers, was looking around the stalls lined along the central street. While looking around for interesting trinkets for the lower classes she suddenly felt a nostalgic aura. Stopping instantly she looked around.
“That is… !”
Violet broke out of the circle her aide and retainers have formed around her, confusing them by her sudden halt, and disappeared into the crowd. Her aide, Krielov, was momentarily befuddled by her sudden action but soon regained his composure and rushed after the princess.
“Found you, Zeshald!”
Yuusuke, who was hurriedly trying to leave this place as he was urged by Zeshald to get away from the street, was surprised by a young girl that suddenly tackled Zeshald on the waist. She looked to be strong willed, had her red hair bound into twin tails, and wore an expensive, open, crimson dress.
“Princess, please be gentler with the elderly.”
“You are saying that yet you are always out wandering somewhere around the world.”
Attendant Krielov of the [Fire gods corps], having finally caught up to the princess, recognized Zeshald and set a cold face.
Krielov did not like Zeshald. Currently ruling Esvobus Volance, the admired [Crimson wall king], which Krielov serves, was a good friend of Zeshald, but currently, because of the circumstances, their relationship was complicated.
“Do not involve yourselves with Zeshald.”, said king Esvobus, seeming like he was not telling something.
For king Esvobus, a fire art user of great strength, to show favoritism like that made his faithful retainers, including Krielov, harbor displeasure towards Zeshald. Thinking “Might it be that Zeshald is some sort of weakness of the king?” Krielov asked the princess to “Return to the palace” while politely excusing himself. Soldiers of Fire god corps, guessing the intent of their commanding officer, surrounded the princess with a guard ring as per their duty.
“Isn’t it sunset already? Your father will get worried if you do not return to the palace soon.”
Violet, dissatisfied because she was being treated as granddaughter by Zeshald, suddenly coquettishly changed her facial expression, puffed her cheeks while putting her hands at her hips, got even closer to the old man, and pointed her finger toward his chest.
“I am not a child anymore. You should also know that…”
“Well then what is the secret of why this senile old man has caught her highness’ interest?”
“!! Princess, behavior as such is..!“
In addition to lightly brushing off her close aide’s thoughts, Princess Violet, after her seduction attempt failed completely, once again puffed her cheeks with all her might.
“Che, it seems I don’t have enough sex appeal.”
“It’s because the one you are trying to seduce this time is a weak old man…”
Zeshald sheepishly replied to groaning Violet. As Krielov lost his patience and the soldiers of fire god corps silently performed their duty, Yuusuke, being ignored as a total outsider, was standing aside and staring at the soldiers while thinking – “What a tomboyish princess”.
“You, you give off a strange aura.”
Yuusuke, dumbfounded by being spoken to so suddenly, released a strange sound from his mouth. Turning his head back, before his eyes Yuusuke saw a self-confident lady with a well-featured face, and beaming red eyes, full of determination. The princess was walking towards him.
Violet, recognizing an existence that did not immediately separate from Zeshald upon seeing these events, took an interest in the face of the person that emitted the aura of an unknown divine arts that she has never felt before. Luckily her advance was promptly interrupted by Zeshald.
“He is a shy person, if the princess continues to stare at him like that, he will collapse from the stress.”
Violet squinted her eyes, not the very least interested in Zeshald’s protective behavior, compared to the mysterious aura of the hooded divine arts user, snorted, and obediently withdrawn. Seemingly posing she snapped her fingers towards the two.
At that moment, after emitting a crackling sound (a sound of burning), Yuusuke’s hood started to burn.
“Ugh! This is bad.”
Even thou the flame were quickly doused by Zeshald’s water arts, the bystanders were alerted by Violet’s usage of the divine arts. The princess, who was laughing out loud, was urged to behave by Krielov, who rushed to her side.
“Princess! Please behave yourself. Royalty’s sacred divine arts should not be recklessly used in front of the people of lower castes like this!”
“Leave me alone!”
Yuusuke, almost having his head burnt, interfered in the admonition of the close aid of the reckless tomboyish princess. Interference in a conversation between a royal princess and her close aid was something that was even impossible to conceive for the ability users of the lower castes. This again ignited the princess’ interest in Yuusuke as she looked towards him… and froze…
“Gah! What an absurdly unmanageable tomboyish princess.”
Yuusuke, standing there speaking without any respect while fording the cape with a burnt hood to perform a customization repair on it later on, noticed sudden lack of the turmoil that was going on just a moment ago.
“What do you want?”
“Are you the God of calamity…? Have you come to destroy my country?”
Yuusuke lost his voice for a moment again. [“Oh boy…”], Zeshald looked towards the sky while covering his brows. Silence that has fallen between the bystanders as the member of the royalty pointed out a [god of calamity] disappeared in an instant.
No matter what, calling someone an evil god was not natural. After all the existence of a “being that brought calamity every 300 years” was directly implied.
“Uhm, the power of the god of calamity … the great calamity…”
“I don’t think this is the place were talking nice works.”
Krielov, who was right behind Violet, immediately showed why he was the commander of the fire god corps and ordered his troops.
“Arrest those that threaten our lord immediately.”