In the shadow of the huge protective wall of the city fortress Paula, Zeshald was summarizing the information that he had gathered on the internal situation of Blue Garden, while deciding on his future actions according to the information about the current state of Fonclanc, which he obtained from a collaborator (Reifold).
“I see, so Yuusuke performed splendidly this time. Still, even just listening to what he had done… his power seems tremendous.”(Zeshald)
“Even though I have expected something like that from him, he has astounded me as well.”(Reifold)
Reifold laughed even though he himself nearly got caught in the mayhem.
Right now the fortress city Paula was concerned with restoring their combat strength due to the annihilation of the wind troupe. Divine arts military groups were swarmed with recruitment and conscription applications. Because of that, Zeshald’s surveillance get looser, day by day.
“I will soon go meet with the water priestess [Queen].”(Zeshald)
“In the main capital, Cofta?”(Reifold)
When the country was established, the believers of the water god Shalnar flocked around the temple and eventually settled down. Afterwards they created a small kingdom. The nation was officially ruled by a queen, who had a massive support from her citizens and resided in the Shalnar temple-castle at the heart of Cofta.
Currently the country was actually ruled from the second capital – the fortress city of Paula. Izapnar, who was the ruler of this city, had nearly absolute control of militaristic and civilian affairs of the country. It could be said, that the country was controlled from the council room situated in the underground level of the fortress.
There was no antagonism between the water priestess, queen Rishause, and the supreme commander Izapnar. However, it did not mean that their political views and opinions were the same. Their relation was more akin to mutual ignorance, as both capitals were ruled independently.
Looking at this situation, Zeshald saw it as an opportunity that he could take advantage of.
“In that case, I should deliver this information to the other side (Fonclanc).”(Reifold)
“I am sorry to make you do this all the time.”(Zeshald)
“Don’t mind it. I have already received a reward from Yuusuke.”(Reifold)
Reifold took out a small trinket, resembling an insect, and showed it to the confused Zeshald.
“This fishing hook is amazing.”(Reifold)
Around the same time that Yuusuke spotted Isotta on the streets of Sanc Adiet, Zeshald was walking along the road leading from the city center up to the main fortress of Paula. Most of the common people lived in the north side of the fortress city, slightly away from the city center. Meanwhile the important facilities were concentrated in the fortress constructed below the city center.
Paula was built at the foot of Bouzas mountain range that occupied more than half of Blue Garden’s territory. The fortress that Zeshald was walking towards, looked like a semicircle wall with a huge circumference. Its purpose was to protect against attacks from the kingdom of Fonclanc. Despite the fact that this road was far away from the city center, many mobile street stalls lined up against it.
Every divine arts organization had its residential and training quarters inside these walls. There were also civilians and divine arts militia who lived farther away from the city center. Because of that, there were a lot of vacant rooms the militias could declare [belonging to “this and that” group] and use it relatively freely.
As Zeshald walked through one such lines of mobile stalls, he stopped as something caught his interest. Several [artless] people, wearing slave collars, crowded around one stand. One of them seemed to have been injured in the leg. This person sat down as to lessen the burden on her leg, but she was constantly worried about slight bleeding.
Zeshald slowly approached her and healed the injury with his heading arts. Woman, with a thankful expression on her face, wanted to say something as a thanks but her expression changed to fear as she was whipped by her master for speaking on her own accord.
“That is enough!. He can understand you without speaking.”(Whipping man)
The [artless] woman lowered her head. At that time a man, who was seemingly their master, came out of the shop and spoke in a commanding voice.
“Did you do something to my artless?”(Slave owner)
“No, I saw that one of them was injured so I healed her.”(Zeshald)
“?…! Yo-you are…Head instructor Zeshald!”(Slave owner)
As this goon recognized Zeshald, the two hastily changed their attitudes. In addition to being a valuable and talented water arts user, Zeshald had quite some influence in the Blue Garden. In between these facts, Zeshald’s mastery of water arts was especially well known throughout the fortress city.
“Oooh so that’s how it was, however… the stock we have now is but the leftovers.”(Slave owner)
“Don’t worry. Healing is my hobby so don’t mind about what I just did.”(Zeshald)
As the slave merchant hesitated about how to reward Zeshald, the head instructor waved it off with “I don’t need any money.” After the slave merchant left, taking all of the slaves with him, Zeshald breathed a sigh while thinking of the treatment of the [artless] in this country.
In a country with a caste system, the [artless] were treated as people that have not been blessed by either of the gods. However in Blue Garden, a country that boasted of equality between the divine arts users, those that could not use any divine arts were treated as they were not even human.
“Head instructor Zeshald!”(Plausha)
“Hm? Ah, Plausha-kun? Are you healthy enough to go out already?”(Zeshald)
“Yes, I am so sorry to have worried you… Come tomorrow, I will be able to resume training so I will be in your care again.”(Plausha)
A female water arts user cadet greeted Zeshald. Some days ago she suddenly took a break from her training, but it seems that her aim to join the water troupe had not wavered.
“I have decided on it a long time ago but… my sister is not here anymore.”(Plausha)
“… I see…”(Zeshald)
Last information regarding her sister came from Gearhawk fortress. Afterwards her body was returned by Fonclanc. Plausha’s form, standing dumbfounded before the slightly mangled corpse of her sister, was still fresh in Zeshald’s mind. To brighten up the atmosphere, Plausha changed the topic of their discussion.
“By the way, head instructor when you lived in Fonclanc, you used to keep a lot of [artless]. Were you using them for some water arts experiments?”(Plausha)
“No, I lived along with them in their village.”(Zeshald)
“Eh? Along with the [artless]?”(Plausha)
Plausha was completely stupefied on how could Zeshald not keep at least one [artless] in his house.
“This is a difficult problem alright.”(Violet)
“It seems so.”(Yuusuke)
Yuusuke immediately reported to Violet of what he had learnt that day upon returning to the castle. As he was talking about Shinha, surprise showed on Violet’s face for a moment. Krielov’s face color changed and he jumped out from his seat, but was properly restrained by Violet who forbade him from ever speaking about this.
Thus, Yuusuke was also forbidden from talking to anyone about this matter. Yuusuke nodded, accepting these restrictions after being told that the details will be explained to him at a later time, as he understood that he got himself into some complicated mess.
Afterwards they discussed [artless] problems and the relationship between the [artless] and the arts users. Violet crossed her arms and replied to Yuusuke that giving orders to the common guards and reforming the public opinion might be difficult as this solution also involved religious beliefs.
“To begin with, trying to change the very foundations of the country would throw Fonclanc into utter chaos.”(Violet)
“I guess so.”(Yuusuke)
“If that happened, you would have to rely on your own strength, right?”(Violet)
“Judging by the numbers alone, we, divine arts users, outnumber artless. In the end, the artless people would probably be forced into an even harsher conditions.”(Krielov)
Reasoning about how to increase the social position and rights of the [artless] within the current caste system, Krielov speculated that there is a possibility of improving the current [artless] stereotype over the next few decades by educating children about the improvement of the [artless] rights.
However, this method would be impossible to execute as it would be surely met with opposition.
“Still, something can be done regarding public order and discrimination.”(Krielov)
“Do you have some good plan?”(Yuusuke)
“It’s simple. Using [knight’s honor] as a reason we can tighten guards’ attitude about their duties.”(Krielov)
“Oooh, as expected of an elite! It’s a really great idea, but…”(Yuusuke)
A shade of disappointment began to show on Krielov’s face, as Yuusuke denounced his idea explaining what value does [honor] hold to [simple guards] in a slightly apologetic tone. They used their wages to eat, and you can’t eat honor. It was that simple.
“I guess they would value making their living over the pride and honor.”(Krielov)
Presented with a choice between family and pride, ordinary people would choose family. Therefore, the solution would first need to be suitable for them. While it could not be said that pride and honor were worthless, these people could not fill their mouths with it.
“Well, it’s not that I completely disagree with your opinion.”(Yuusuke)
“Hmm… certainly… Our king also prefers truth over honor.”(Krielov)
While Krielov grumbled, thinking about this as more and more wrinkles appeared on his forehead, Violet, taking over his place in the discussion, nodded while remembering that the corruption and bribes, rampant amongst the bureaucrats, obviously were also present between the common guards as well as the commoners.
“Changing the common sense might not be easy, however, with the cooperation of the top brass of the country, there might be a quick and easy method to ease the situation.”(Violet)
“Oooh? And what is that method?”(Yuusuke)
“Announcing a law protecting the [artless], ” Violet cut to the chase.
“Faatheerr~~ Please hear me out, I have a request for you~”(Violet)
The king was then asked to think of some appropriate reason to issue a law protecting the [artless]. There were few slavers (owners) in Fonclanc, compared to Blue Garden, so even if such law was to be issued, there would be few people who would be troubled by it.
Slavery was not illegal in Fonclanc, but [artless] were treated as little more than slaves. Because of the minute differences in treatment towards the [artless], the king considered that the effect of the protection law would be minimal. Incidentally, the number of slaves was greater than the number of divine arts users and this was true with other countries as well. The quality of the slaves was closely linked to the status of the slave owner. If one could afford to keep arts users slaves, he was seen as someone of a higher status than the one with only [artless] slaves.
“Lady Violet has started blabbering strange things again.”(Bureaucrat A)
“It’s because of the influence of that man. What is the point of a law, protecting the [artless] and the like?”(Bureaucrat B)
As bureaucrats whispered this in secret, king Esvobus allowed Violet to have her way (after being assaulted by her) and she quickly left the audience room (skipping) to return to Yuusuke so they could work out the contents of this law.
The training facility, used specifically for training the elites, was located near the second capital, Paula, slightly inside the mountain range near where the fortress city was built. The institution was similar to a military academy, where facilities are reserved only for the elite of high social standing whom were set to join one of the elite military groups.
A gravel mountain road led to the gates of this facility. From this road, you could reach the road leading to the Blue Garden’s first capital, Cofta.
The City of Cofta spread around the Shalnar’s temple. The only open space was near the entrance to the summit, thus countless living quarters and facilities were situated in the tunnels, dug within the mountain. This city was the capital which was built at the highest altitude on the mountains in Kaltcio.
The temple on the summit acted as a royal castle. Queen Rishause, who was also the priestess of Shalnar, desired nothing more than a quiet life. She sighed melancholically, having received a letter that the consul had delivered to her. Besides the audience request, only the sender’s name, Zeshald, was written in it.
He was a former royal divine arts instructor of Fonclanc, who had recently taken up the position of head instructor of the divine arts in Blue Garden. Thinking that the supreme commander Izapnar was involved again, her mood became heavy.
Fourteen years ago when her father, the founder of the nation, died Izapnar, devoted close aide of the father, was appointed an official guardian of the then sixteen year old queen until her official enthronement. Izapnar worked diligently, and through his devotion, the emerging country became a major power on par with powerful nations like Fonclanc. For his deeds, people started to worship him as a symbol of Blue Garden. Thus the support he received from the masses was enormous.
Izapnar, using the sense of impending danger and fall of a country that people felt after their king’s death, started to carry out a secret project in order to protect the country from its neighbors. He hastened the construction of the defensive fortress Paula, which purpose was to protect the country from Fonclanc. During this construction project, his faction steadily became the center of the political world of his country.
Although former royalists and palace officials expressed concern regarding his rapid rise to power, they avoided criticizing him and believed and supported him as he had the trust of the royal figurehead, Rishause, and carried the authority of the king.
Around the time of the queen’s enthronement, it came to light that Izapnar’s loyalty lied with the late king and not with the princess. A vague shade of ambition could also be felt from his actions. However, as she had no one to rely on, Rishause could only treat him as former king’s loyal retainer.
As a result, everything from daily tasks to the construction orders, Rishause was informed long after these events happened.
“I guess it’s impossible… to decline the audience.”(Rishause)
Sighing once again, Rishause called her close aide.