Yuusha no furi
71: The royal capital Industria (Arc 4 Start)
I became a hero and got the request from the king to subjugate Leo, who apparently was a companion of the demons who attacked the capital.
I made a deal with the dragon to help Leo, defeated Barrier Muuk of the Four Heavenly Kings at the World Tree and saved the elves, who in turn became my believers.
After that, I heard the truth about the Demon Lord from the Ocean Goddess Lilille. The Demon Lord turned out to be the alter ego of the god Vanus.

We erected a demon repelling barrier and departed the day after we had defeated Barrier Muuk.
We receive the farewells of the elves and head southwest.

What we'll do from now on is to find a skilled blacksmith, get the gems that are produced in the Edelstein Kingdom, and to create a holy sword.
And I have to acquire 50.000 believers.

For the time being, we're heading for the royal capital Industria.
It was a journey of about one week.

We mounted Sand Lizards and crossed the desert.
I, Celica, Minya, Lapisia and Fioria with her child are joined by the Ocean Goddess Lilille, who also goes by the name of Lily the saint.

Lilille rode a Sand Lizard together with Lapisia and was teaching her God Art along the way.
"Do you get this, Lapisia? You collect the energy of the earth and use it."
"It feels just like moving your arms and legs when you concentrate on the earth."
"Try to do it as if you're sticking your hands into the ground and then grab it from below."
--Will this method really work?

While Lapisia rides on the Lizard's back, she wrinkles her eyebrows and shouts in a low voice.
She pointed at the sand that we were passing by.
When she did this, it bulged by about ten centimeters.
That's all.

Lilille pats Lapisia's head.
"Good girl. Well done. Please practice this for a while, because this is the foundation."
Lapisia swung her blue twin tails and begun to practice it over and over.
Sand rises like guideposts here and there.

Is it easier to understand, if you get to know the usage of magical power with your body first?
The explanation is quite vague though.

Lilille is a dazzling beauty, but she also has a clumsy side to her. On a level, that might just let the world end.
I'm worried, whether she won't make a blunder.

--Ah, that's right, Lilille.
"What might it be?"
-- How do you feel about Rii's status?
"I've been carefully watching her for quite some time now, and I think, that there's indeed an abnormality with her race and age."
--So she wasn't an elf after all, huh. Is her age also wrong?

"The World Tree was cut down about 30 years ago and her age is 139. Even if we assume that her father was 20 when she was born, it wouldn't be consistent if he wouldn't have been at least 120 years old. Humans shouldn't live that long. Conversely, even the elves would suspect him if he'd be alive."

--I see--, something is strange. Her actual age should be more like 60 or 70.
"From her appearance, I'd say she's 13 or 14 years old though. I don't think, that we'll be able to figure out her original age, since the elves are quite ignorant towards the flow of time..."
--Well, can't you just overwrite it with the power of the Ocean God?
"Don't say unreasonable things. Let's update her status after we have further checked the wavelengths of her magic power and life force."
--I'll leave it at your discretion.

Speaking of which, Fioria and Rii are completely concealed by their robes to hide their identities as elves.
We did that to avoid unnecessary trouble.

We crossed the desert in three days and got onto a main road.
We sold the lizards at a town and bought horses.

We left the barren land behind us.
We travel along fenced fields and pastures. There are a lot of drought-resistant crops and it looks like stick farming is widely spread.

We reached the royal capital Industria about one week after out departure.
It's a big city in the southwest of the continent that faces the ocean.
Large ships are anchored at the port in the south and there are warehouses and various workshops lined up along the coast.
There aren't only blacksmiths, but also woodworkers, weavers, dyeing masters and potters among others. Of course, there are also wholesale dealers.

It seems that raw materials are brought to this city, then processed and exported.
From the looks of it, it supports the many territories of the Fabrica Kingdom that were hit by the desertification and hence can't produce enough food.

We approached this city from the northern side.
Slums surrounded the high city walls. Even the slums alone are like a city themselves.
The people who live here are migrants and people, who work away from home. They are poor and can't live inside the walls.
That there have so many people gathered here means, that there are many jobs.

However, there was a dispute at the city wall's gate. The huge double-door of the gate it closed and a crowd has gathered.
A soldier speaks.
"I can't let you enter the city today because it's dangerous."
"Why!?" "I can't work if you won't let me in" "Let me pass!"
"No means no!"
More soldiers are coming as they thrust with their spears at the people and don't plan to let the people enter.

I approach them while I show the "Proof of Hero".
"I'm a hero. Did something happen?"
"What do you want!? --Ah, Hero-sama, you are the hero of the Daphnes Kingdom? Thank you for coming all the way! Welcome to Industria! At the moment, it's dangerous though because the workers are marching through the streets."
"Are they demonstrating or did they go on a strike?"
"Well, I guess so. Something along those lines."

I looked through the streets with "Clairvoyance".
Soldiers and inhabitants were glaring at each other on the main street. It seems that a lot of the inhabitants are craftsmen.
"We aren't slaves" "No tax increase" "Don't let us only make weapons"
I looked at their status in a hunch and there were a lot of blacksmiths.
--It would be troublesome if they'd get injured before I can solicit them.

"I got it. I'll put an end to this."
"Really, Hero-sama!?"
"Leave it to me-- Celica, you and the others will wait here. Please protect Fioria and Rii. Lily, you'll come with me!"
"All right"
A two meters tall man came forward after he pushed his way through the people.

He has short, red hair and a scar on his cheek. He has a sharp look in his eyes and a grim look on his face. Muscles are swelling under his tanned skin and he gives of the atmosphere of a long-standing adventurer.
Because of his rough appearance, the space around him quickly clears.

It was the disguised Lillie. She changed her appearance before I knew it.
It seems to be a magic, that lets you show a false image of yourself, called "Mirage Form".

"Eh, is this also one of your comrades..."
"That's right. We'll pass through the gate."
"We'll immediately open..."
"No need"
Lilille and I are pushing a double door of the massive iron gate.
*Gii* It opens while it makes a heavy sound.

The soldiers look in astonishment.
"What strength! The doors shouldn't open unless they are pushed by five people."
"I'm a hero after all."

Then the big man Lilille and I are entering through the gap in the opened gate.
We were in an industrial area just after we had passed the city wall.
Various workshops are standing side by side.
White smoke rises from the chimneys around us and the air is quite dusty.

We're rushing on the stone paved road that is stained with oil.
Our goal is the inside of the second city wall.

The second large gate appears after we ran for several hundreds of meters. Soldiers are standing watch.
We go through the gate with the same exchange as before.

This is the district where the ordinary citizens and craftsmen live.
Shops and houses are lined up.
However, there is no traffic.
Soldiers and a group of craftsmen were glaring at each other.
Voices of anger and boos are resounding.

The distance between them has shrunk compared to before and the atmosphere is explosive.

I kicked the ground and flew high above the ground. My clothes are fluttering.
Then I came out in front of the two groups. Lilille in her tall man appearance follows behind.

A soldier yells.
"Wh, Who the hell are you!"
I raise the "Proof of Hero" and show it around.
"I'm a hero. Both sides, stop your pointless quarrel."
"""He, Hero-sama!"""

The groups are quieting down like the ebbing tide.
Especially the craftsmen, who seem to have complaints, won't quiet down immediately.

I spoke to the craftsmen.
"You know, that you'll only get hurt and go to prison, if you continue with your strike like that, right? I'm a hero, and if you're troubled by something, you can talk to me. How about it?"
"Ye, Yes..." "I understand..." "I'm sorry"
The group of about 300 craftsmen is quickly scattering into the side roads and the alleys.

I turn to the soldiers.
"That's how it is. The demo is over. No one was hurt, so leave it at that."
"Yes, understood! As expected of you, Hero-sama! --Let's return, everyone!"
Following the shout of the captain, who led the soldiers, they swarmed back into the castle in the center of the city.

"E, Errr. Hero-sama. Please listen to us."
Two men came to my side. One was a master blacksmith with a sturdy body and the other was a merchant-like man.
"What happened? It looked like there were many blacksmiths."
I'm certain because I looked at them with "Truth Sight".

"The truth is, the country is trying to make us create weapons, armor and portable rations for a very low price."
"A, And moreover, lots of them! If they'd just wanted five or ten, we'd tolerate it, but because they ordered a thousand for way under value, we'll starve!"

"I see. You asked for a reasonable price, but they didn't accept, hence it turned into a strike and a demonstration. Am I right so far?"
"They want 1000 weapons by the end of this month. By the end of next month 4000. Also the same amount of armors and food."
"That's a lot"
"Some of us will certainly die. This isn't magic, who'd do something that reckless!?"

--It's as if they were preparing for a war.
What are they thinking?

Lilille speaks telepathically to me.
"It's almost like they are preparing for a war. Or do you think they make them for demon extermination?"
--I'd still prefer that.

The merchant-like man lowered his back and spoke.
"So, would you please help us?"
"Hmmm. I'll decide after I heard out the country, but-- I can try to negotiate about the price and quantity."
"Thank you very much, Hero-sama!"

At that time, the sound of hooves echoes from behind with a *pakapaka*.
When I turned my head, knights, who seemed to come from the castle, arrived on horses. A carriage is following behind them.
"I assume you are the hero? Hero-dono, we came to pass the message along, that his majesty King Ronheim wishes to meet you. Do you want to accept his invitation?"
"That's just right. I planned to meet him next. --Lily, join up with Celica and the others and find an inn."
The giant man Lilille nods with a grim face.

I parted ways with Lilille, got on the carriage and headed toward the castle.